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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a final rule today that will automatically grant manufacturer applications for interim test procedure waivers if not acted on by DOE within 45 business days of receipt.
Uniform test procedures provide the foundation for federal appliance standards, ensuring a level competitive playing field for manufacturers and reliable energy ratings for consumers.
“By allowing for self-assigned interim waivers, the new rule opens the door to unscrupulous manufacturers skirting the rules and selling products that use more energy than competing products that follow the rules,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “Under no conditions should a manufacturer be waived from federal test procedure requirements simply by the passage of time. Waiver applications can be complicated and should not be granted absent an affirmative decision by DOE’s engineers and lawyers that a manufacturer’s alternate testing approach is fair.”
Air pollution regulators around the world learned that manufacturers can game regulatory test procedures when Volkswagen famously cheated on vehicle emissions tests. A major refrigerator manufacturer similarly gamed the DOE’s refrigerator energy efficiency test about a decade ago.
“The new rule is an invitation for abuse,” said deLaski. “The incoming Biden administration should move swiftly to undo this rule and ensure that all products sold really do meet US standards.”