On Monday August 10, 16 state Attorneys General, the New York City Law Office, and a coalition of consumer and environmental groups notified the Department of Energy (DOE) of their intent to file lawsuits over the agency’s missed deadlines for updating appliance standards and test procedures. Under the appliance standards law, DOE must review each product standard every six years and each test procedure every seven years to determine if updates are warranted. DOE has not completed any standards reviews (and only one test procedure review) since 2016, while the number of missed standards deadlines ballooned from three to 28 in that time.
These delays are costly for consumers and the nation. ASAP’s 2016 report, Next Generation Standards, estimated that updated standards could save consumers $1.1 trillion on their utility bills and cut climate change emissions by 3.5 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2050. Delaying the reviews means that this next round of improved standards cannot begin to take effect until the mid-2020s for most products.
DOE appears to recognize the hole they have dug and has begun to ramp up rulemaking work. Since April, DOE has issued 25 notices related to standards and test procedures, primarily early stage “requests for information” that initiate the rulemaking process. (See article below for details on some dockets.) DOE now has review processes underway for 31 standards and 32 test procedures.
A similar lawsuit filed back in 2005 at a time when DOE had also missed a slew of deadlines, yielded a settlement agreement that forced the agency to get caught up. The new lawsuit will make sure that DOE once again gets and stays back on track for meeting its obligation to keep national appliance standards up to date.