Coalition Urges DOE to Address Delays

The agency must finish repealing harmful Trump-administration efficiency standards regulations to avoid needlessly deferring immense consumer and environmental benefits.


Department of Energy

NRDC, along with The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, CLASP, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumer Law Center, just submitted a letter to Secretary Granholm at the Department of Energy (DOE) urging the agency to finish repealing harmful Trump-administration efficiency standards regulations. DOE had previously committed to completing this process by the end of the year, but things are not on track. For some rules, DOE is guaranteed to miss the deadline; for others, there is a very strong likelihood. Delaying these rules delays the entire efficiency standards program, needlessly deferring immense consumer and environmental benefits.

We simply cannot afford to wait any longer. By 2030, updates to efficiency standards this term can reduce annual household utility bills by $100, with those benefits rising to $350 annually by 2050. Standards can also reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 to nearly 3 gigatons by 2050. According to the EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, that’s equivalent to the annual emissions from 378 – 756 coal plants!


DOE began this review pursuant to Executive Order 13990, issued on President Biden’s first day in office. The order directed agencies, including DOE, to review agency actions taken during the previous administration that were inconsistent with, among other priorities, the president’s goal to “promote and protect our public health and the environment.” Pursuant to the order, DOE identified 13 rules to be reviewed by December 31, 2021.

Rules that have yet to be finalized by DOE include:

  • Further revisions to DOE’s “Process Rule,” the rule that provides the framework for DOE’s efficiency standards program and which became a large potential barrier to progress under the Trump administration;
  • Revocation of harmful, incorrect legal conclusions regarding gas-using furnaces and commercial water heaters, conclusions which would have the effect of keeping wasteful, inefficient products on the market for longer;
  • Two important light bulb rules, which are necessary to complete the country’s transition to efficient, affordable LED lighting;
  • Elimination of newly-introduced loopholes for dishwashers, clothes washers, and clothes dryers, which effectively eviscerated the efficiency standards for these products.

We know that DOE will miss the end-of-year deadline for some of these rules. For instance, DOE only recently released one of the proposed lighting rules, with a comment deadline extending into 2022. It will take additional months for DOE to respond to any comments it receives and to publish the final rule. We also know from DOE’s recently released regulatory agenda that some rules, including the gas products rule, are not scheduled to be completed until 2022.

While it is true that so far these delays are a matter of months, every single day matters. The Biden administration could issue approximately 50 efficiency standards this term. There is no time for unnecessary delay. We also want to ensure that these rules don’t slip further behind schedule—it wouldn’t be the first time an agency failed to meet a timeline in the regulatory agenda.


Unfortunately, these delays are not entirely isolated. By its own admission, DOE has missed deadlines to review 33 efficiency standards. We believe DOE can right the ship  but doing so means not allowing delays to compound while DOE finishes this review. We urge DOE to develop, and communicate, a plan for finalizing repeal of the Trump-era rules, catching up on overdue rules, and meeting deadlines that will come due this term. The benefits are too great to delay any further—DOE must act now to save consumers money and slash climate-warming emissions.

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