U.S. Department of Energy Moves to Roll Back New Appliance Efficiency Standards


Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Andrew deLaski, ASAP, 617-363-9470 or 617-515-7755


Consumer, Environment, and Utility Groups Protest That a Rollback Would Worsen America's Energy Problems

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a move which would only worsen what President Bush has called a long-term energy "crisis," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham is working to roll back three important energy efficiency standards finalized by the Clinton administration. DOE legal staff are preparing a rationale for rolling back the efficiency standards for new clothes washers, hot water heaters, and central air conditioners and heat pumps. In a letter to Secretary Abraham today, a broad coalition of nearly 50 consumer, public health, and environmental organizations, utilities, and state government officials protested the rollback plans. The letter points out that these standards play a critical role in addressing the imbalance in energy supply and demand that has led to unprecedented energy price increases and California's power outages.

"Rolling back these standards would be like tossing lifeboats off the Titanic. With our current energy problems, it's irresponsible even to consider rolling back appliance efficiency standards that will help balance energy supply and demand," said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. "A rollback would increase the demand for power during peak periods --- especially hot summer afternoons --- which would make the electricity grid less reliable and increase the risk of future power outages," said deLaski.

All three of the new efficiency standards were issued after many years of public comment and hearings in full accordance with the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act and DOE rules. The new standards are scheduled to take effect between 2004 and 2007, giving manufacturers ample time to upgrade their product lines.

"The standards create enormous benefits for consumers, electricity suppliers, and the environment," said deLaski. If allowed to go into effect by Secretary Abraham, the standards will save consumers over $22 billion net and will eliminate the need for more than 170 new power plants. They will cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by over 20 million metric tons per year by 2010 and over 50 million metric tons per year by 2020, according to estimates prepared by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Air conditioner and water heater manufacturers have urged DOE to roll back the standards, while clothes washer manufacturers such as Whirlpool and Maytag support the washer standard. Others who have supported the new standards include the states of California and Texas, utilities such as Massachusetts Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric, numerous consumer groups, and environmental and public health organizations including the American Lung Association and Natural Resources Defense Council.

This latest rollback attempt continues the Bush Administration's assault on the environment. It comes in the wake of President Bush's decision to roll back new standards on arsenic in drinking water, his broken campaign promise to control carbon dioxide emissions, and his abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol for controlling global warming emissions.

The coalition letter to Secretary Abraham can be viewed at www.standardsASAP.org.

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For more information:
Andrew deLaski, Appliance Standards Awareness Project 617-363-9470 or 617-515-7755

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.