Bush Rolls Back Energy-Saving Standards


Friday, April 13, 2001

Andrew deLaski, ASAP, 617-363-9470
Kalee Kreider, National Environmental Trust, 202-887-8818
David Nemtzow, Alliance to Save Energy, 202-857-0666
Ralph Cavanagh, NRDC 415-777-0220

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today President Bush made the nation's energy and environmental problems worse by trying to roll back cost-effective energy efficiency standards for central air conditioners. The final standards, developed over six years and published in January, will make new air conditioners 30% more efficient starting in 2006; the Bush Administration is attempting to weaken this standard. This rollback would increase power bills for tens of millions of Americans, cause additional deaths from air pollution-related disease, and increase the likelihood of summertime power outages.

A coalition including environmental groups, consumer and low income groups, utilities, and state governments protested the rollback attempt.

"If this illegal rollback succeeds, when the power goes out in California and other parts of the country, President Bush will be to blame," said David Nemtzow, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. "Rolling back energy efficiency in the face of our energy problems defies common sense."

Last summer, power outages in California occurred when supplies fell just a few hundred megawatts short of demand. Similar shortfalls are expected this summer in California and New York. Weakening the standard would increase electric demand by at least 14,000 megawatts nationally, increasing the strain on the nation's power systems. It takes about 50 medium-sized power plants to generate 14,000 megawatts of power.

"President Bush has just made California's long term electricity outlook worse. The annual energy saved by the air conditioner standard in the long run would have been greater than this summer's projected shortage," said Phil Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust.

Air conditioner manufacturers Carrier, Trane, Lennox and York lobbied hard for the rollback, while Goodman Manufacturing, maker of Amana products, opposes the rollback.

"President Bush's action today shows he cares more about the profits of a few companies than about the skyrocketing monthly utility bills faced by American consumers," said Andrew deLaski, director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups, utilities and state agencies based in Boston. "Consumers' power bills will go up by a total of at least $800 million per year if this rollback succeeds."

"This rollback attempt continues the Bush assault on the environment," said Clapp. "It would increase power plant carbon emissions by 30 million metric tons -- an amount equal to the greenhouse gases emitted by 26 million cars in a year." The rollback would also increase power plant pollution that contributes to smog, acid raid and soot pollution.

"With more air pollution, more people develop lung disease," said deLaski. "This rollback would increase mortality associated with air pollution."

The action today violates the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act signed by President Reagan in 1987 which prohibits rollbacks and the Administrative Procedures Act, which defines the process for establishing new rules.

According to Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Program Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, "The Administration is trying to block one of the fastest, cheapest and cleanest sources of relief for the West's badly overstressed power grid, and we'll fight this act of vandalism every inch of the way."

Cavanagh's group and the others pledged to challenge the rollback in court.

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The Appliance Standards Awareness Project is dedicated to increasing understanding of and support for national appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards. ASAP is sponsored by leading environmental groups, consumer groups and state government and utilities.