Trump’s Delay on Energy Efficiency Is Illegal

NRDC is suing the Trump administration for failing to finalize five energy efficiency standards.

Consumers would save as much as $11 billion on their energy bills through five vetted and approved energy efficiency standards, but the Trump administration is unnecessarily—and illegally—stalling the final step required to make these rules effective. So NRDC—along with Earthjustice (which is representing the Sierra Club and Consumer Federation of America), 11 states, and the City of New York—is suing the U.S. Department of Energy.

“These delays are not only baffling—they’re unnecessary and illegal,” said Kit Kennedy, director of NRDC’s Energy & Transportation program. “The Trump administration is inexplicably blocking the final step for standards that the Department of Energy last year signed off on as cost-effective with major benefits for consumers and the environment.”

The five measures in question include the first-ever national energy standards for air compressorsportable air conditioners, and uninterruptible power supplies, the battery backup systems used to keep computers and other electronics running when the power goes out. Updated standards for walk-in coolers and freezers and commercial packaged boilers, responsible for heating one-quarter of the nation’s commercial space, are also in limbo.

“All five rules have gone through a rigorous and legally required rulemaking process with ample opportunity for input,” Kennedy said. “We’re standing up today for American families and businesses. These delays are hurting their budgets and creating uncertainty for U.S. manufacturers that need to make critical decisions about their product lines.”

The Energy Department signed off on the energy-saving standards in December 2016 after a transparent, years-long approval process. That launched a 45-day error-correction period, at the end of which the new rules should have been published in the Federal Register. The DOE has yet to publish the standards, a critical step that makes them official, and the lawsuit filed today seek to compel it to do so.

In addition to the billions of dollars of savings, the five energy efficiency regulations would avoid 25 million metric tons of carbon pollution over 30 years. Delaying them is not only illegal, but it also saddles consumers with unnecessary electricity costs, hurts manufacturers who have begun making investments to meet the standards, and create yet another roadblock by the Trump administration to a commonsense effort to address climate change.

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