Court Rules New Energy Efficiency Standards Shelved by Trump Administration Must Go into Effect

Ruling Comes in Lawsuit Brought by Attorney General Racine and 12 Counterparts

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine and a coalition of 12 other attorneys general have secured a federal court ruling requiring new national energy efficiency standards go into effect. The coalition of attorneys general sued the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last June for unlawfully refusing to implement the standards.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that DOE violated a regulation under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act when it failed to publish the finalized standards in the Federal Register, and ordered DOE to publish the standards within 28 days. The new standards are for four products: portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, and commercial packaged boilers.

“This ruling is a victory for common-sense energy efficiency standards that help protect our planet and District residents,” said Attorney General Racine. “State attorneys general will continue to use the law to protect our residents and act as a check and balance on an administration that is all too willing to roll back environmental protections.”

Over a 30-year period, these energy efficiency standards are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 98.8 million tons. That is comparable to taking more than 21 million cars off the road for one year. Consumer savings are estimated to be $8.4 billion.

The energy efficiency standards were approved by DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in December 2016. As is required, the standards then underwent two procedural steps. First, they were subjected to a 45-day period for submission of correction requests. Once this period closed, DOE was required to make any necessary corrections and submit these rules for publication in the Federal Register, making the rules legally enforceable. DOE failed to complete this final step.

In the lawsuit, the coalition of attorneys general highlighted that the states have significant interests in reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency, in protecting their populations and environments, and in enforcing the provisions of their laws designed to foster energy efficiency and reduce global warming-related impacts. The coalition underscored that these efforts would be harmed by the DOE’s illegal decision not to publish the energy efficiency standards.

Joining Attorney General Racine in this lawsuit were attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington state. The California Energy Commission and the City of New York also joined in the lawsuit.

A copy of the Order Denying Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss and Granting Plaintiffs’ Motions for Summary Judgment is available here.