For Immediate Release - April 04, 2017

AG Healey Joins Lawsuit and Other Legal Action Against Trump Administration for Blocking Energy Efficiency Standards

Coalition Takes Action Against Department of Energy for Violating Federal Law By Obstructing Implementation Of Energy Efficiency Standards For Consumer and Commercial Products

BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a state and municipal coalition in announcing legal action against the Trump Administration for violating federal law by delaying energy efficiency standards for several common consumer and commercial products, including ceiling fans, portable air conditioners, walk-in coolers and freezers, commercial boilers, and more. 

The six standards currently blocked by the Trump Administration offer dramatic air pollution reductions, as well as energy and cost savings to consumers and businesses.

“These standards will save consumers money and reduce air pollution by significantly reducing energy use. Delaying the implementation of these standards is unlawful and harms both consumers and the environment,” said AG Healey. “We will continue to hold this administration accountable when it fails to follow the laws that protect the health and welfare of our residents.”

According to federal estimates, the standards combined over a 30-year period would eliminate emissions of 292 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, 734 thousand tons of the pollution that creates soot and smog, 1.2 million tons of the potent climate change pollutant methane, and over 1,000 pounds of highly-toxic mercury.

Over this same period, the Appliance Standard Awareness Project estimates that the efficiency standards would together save more than 443 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity – the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of over 36 million households. According to federal estimates, the six standards would provide approximately $23.7 billion in net savings to consumers and businesses.

The Department of Energy (DOE) published new energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans as final rules on Jan. 19, 2017, with an effective date for the rule of March 20, 2017. However, the DOE has subsequently delayed the rule’s effective date twice – most recently pushing it back to Sept. 30, 2017 – asserting that stalling the standard was a non-substantive action, and that seeking public input on the delay would be “impractical, unnecessary, and contrary to the public interest.”  

The coalition claims the DOE is violating both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) and Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by delaying the effective date of final energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans, and stalling the final standards for compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, power supply equipment, portable air conditioners, and commercial boilers, by failing to publish them in the Federal Register.      

A lawsuit challenging the delay in the ceiling fan standards has been filed against the DOE in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by a coalition including the Attorneys General of the states of New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the City of New York.  The coalition charges that these delays are illegal and seeks a court order to require the standard to go into effect immediately.

Regarding energy efficiency standards for compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, power supply equipment, portable air conditioners, and commercial boilers, DOE issued a “prepublication notice” of a final rule for compressors on Dec. 5, 2016 and for the four other products on Dec. 28, 2016. The posting of these five rules triggered a limited “error correction” period for the public to identify any typographical or numbering errors for correction by the agency.  By law DOE was then required to publish final energy efficiency standards for compressors by Feb. 21, 2017 and for the four other products by March 15, 2017. To date, the DOE has not published any of these final standards.  

The same coalition plus the attorney general of Maryland charges that the DOE’s failure to publish these five final energy efficiency standards violates EPCA’s standards setting deadline requirements. In accordance with requirements of EPCA, the expanded coalition is sending a 60-day notice today to the DOE of its intention to sue the agency over these violations. If the DOE fails to publish the five energy efficiency standards as final rules within 60 days, the coalition intends to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking the court to declare that the DOE has failed to perform mandatory legal obligations, and require the agency to immediately publish the final rules.  

This matter is being handled on behalf of Massachusetts by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division and Assistant Attorney General Joseph Dorfler of AG Healey’s Energy and Telecommunications Division.