For immediate release - Wednesday, September 7, 2005.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Miller: States Sue U.S. Dept. of Energy for Failing
Consumers on Energy Standards
Attorney General Tom Miller said today that a coalition of 15 states and
the City of New York sued the federal Department of Energy today, alleging
that DOE has failed to adopt required, stronger energy saving standards
for 22 common appliances from furnaces to dishwashers. [Click
here for PDF copy of the lawsuit.]
"The DOE was required by Congress to adopt such standards, but it has failed to do so," Miller said. "Such standards have
been one of the nation's most successful policies for saving energy, so this is a very serious failure." Miller said the
Department of Energy is six to thirteen years behind schedule and has not adopted any appliance efficiency standards since
"Appliance efficiency standards are enormously important," Miller said. "They lower energy bills for consumers and
businesses. They save energy and reduce pollution. They improve the reliability of the electric system. They are fair. And
they help reduce overall energy prices by making a better balance between energy supply and demand," he said.
"It's high-time for the DOE to get moving on efficiency standards for so many appliances that use large amounts of
electricity, natural gas and oil," Miller said.
Years ago Congress directed the Department of Energy to strengthen efficiency standards for a wide range of household
and commercial products, including furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers, air conditioners, dishwashers, heat pumps,
motors, ranges, ovens, motors and lamps.
Congress itself established initial efficiency standards for most of the products in the 1990s, and directed the Department of
Energy periodically to review and strengthen the standards. For the remaining products the DOE is to establish the initial
efficiency standards and also periodically strengthen them.
The standards sought by the lawsuit, according to the federal government's own numbers, would generate substantial
savings for consumers and reduce air pollution and global warming emissions from power plants.
Miller said the states wrote
to the Department of Energy on July 1, 2005, requesting that it comply
with the law and commit to a binding schedule for the establishment of
stronger efficiency standards. They alerted the agency that without such
a schedule, the states would commence federal litigation. The DOE has
not responded to the letter, Miller said. [Click here for the States’
letter to DOE – including a chart of DOE appliance standard violations.]
Appliance efficiency standards capitalize on improved technology and require that the covered appliances use less
electricity, gas or oil while providing the same or improved levels of service and reliability.
Congress required the DOE to select efficiency standards that are "designed to achieve the maximum improvement in
energy efficiency. . . which the Secretary determines [are] technologically feasible and economically justified." [42 U.S.C.
Energy efficiency experts estimate that existing federal appliance efficiency standards are expected by 2010 to lower
electricity costs by over $20 billion per year. The new and strengthened standards that Congress required and that the
states are suing to implement would increase those savings.
"Both the federal government
and industry have agreed that national efficiency standards are among
the fairest and most cost-effective ways to reduce the use of energy,"
Based on the Department of Energy's estimates, the average annual energy savings would meet the total annual energy
needs of between 3 million to 12 million American households, depending on how fast the new standards are phased in and
what the new standards are. Annual electricity savings alone would approximately equal to the output of 13 to 42 large
was filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of New
Fifteen states and the City of New York filed the lawsuit today. The states are NY, CA, CT, IL, IA, ME, MA, NH, NJ,
NM, NC, PA, RI, VT, and WI.
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