Under Pressure from Brown and others, DOE Agrees to Reconsider Weak Furnace and Boiler Efficiency Standards
San Francisco – Responding to a lawsuit that Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and others filed last year, the U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to reconsider the Bush Administration’s “grossly inadequate” home furnace and boiler efficiency regulations.
“The Bush Administration’s grossly inadequate efficiency standards did not do nearly enough to reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and consumer costs from boilers and furnaces,” Attorney General Brown said. “Today’s agreement forces reconsideration of the regulations and could lead to much tougher standards.”
In November 2007, the Bush Administration put forward regulations that gave manufacturers eight years to make only minimal increases in the efficiency of home furnaces and boilers.
In February 2008, Attorney General Brown joined the California Energy Commission, the State of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and New York City, Earthjustice and the National Resources Defense Council in challenging the Bush Administration’s efficiency standards on the grounds that the standards violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy filed a motion asking the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to allow it to reopen the rulemaking process and examine key problems with the regulation including: the failure to consider regional standards and whether a more stringent standard would affect natural gas prices.
The Second Circuit granted the U.S. Department of Energy’s motion today. This resolves the 2008 lawsuit and could lead to more stringent standards, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and energy costs.
The original lawsuit contended that the Bush Administration’s regulations were illegal because they:
• Proposed only minimal increases in efficiency, far less than the Department’s own analysis recognized could be achieved. The U.S. Department of Energy standards would increase furnace efficiency by less than 3% and boiler efficiency only 2.5% over 23 years.
• Resulted from a flawed process. The U.S. Department of Energy overstated the economic barriers to adopting a stricter standard and also failed to consider the positive economic impact of more stringent standards.
• Gave manufacturers too much time to meet the new standards. The U.S. Department of Energy would not require furnace and boiler manufacturers to comply with the new standards until 2015, eight years after the standards were originally issued.
This agreement is part of Attorney General Brown’s fight for stronger federal action on global warming and energy efficiency.
Last week, Attorney General Brown commended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for issuing a proposed determination that greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Brown and 14 states urged the Obama Administration to overturn the Bush EPA’s denial of California’s request to enforce its automobile greenhouse gas emissions law.
In 2002, California enacted legislation requiring a 30% reduction in automobile greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. But before the State can enforce its law, EPA must grant a Clean Air Act wavier.
A copy of the Second Circuit’s order is attached.