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September 10, 2019
Contact: Tom Lalley


Thirteen AGs Oppose Energy Department's Proposed Rollback of Efficiency Standards for Furnaces and Water Heaters

Energy Department’s proposal is "arbitrary and capricious” and “undermines state and local energy policy and conservation goals."

Projected consumer savings from efficiency standards targeted by the proposed rollback would total up to $37 billion.

Washington, D.C. — New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 13 attorneys general in submitting comments yesterday opposing a proposed rule by the Energy Department that would unlawfully delay improved efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces and commercial hot water heaters initiated under the Obama administration.

In their comments, the attorneys general emphasize that the Energy Department’s own estimates show that the commercial hot water heater standards proposed in 2016, and now being rolled back, would “save commercial consumers up to $6.8 billion, and reduce CO2 emissions by 98 million metric tons over 30 years of sales.” The coalition warns that the department's proposal would revert to efficiency standards adopted in 2007, which already are being met by “99% of furnaces sold.” The attorneys general also emphasize that their states rely on the Energy Department to “fulfill its statutory duty to develop and adopt aggressive standards,” and warn that the proposal will “hamper state and municipal energy efficiency, clean energy, and climate goals."

The proposal is part of a broader push by the Energy Department to weaken energy- and cost-saving efficiency standards. Last week, the department finalized a rule that will exclude lightbulbs used in nearly 3 billion sockets nationwide from a broad category known as “general service lamps” that are subject to more stringent efficiency standards beginning in 2020. That rollback alone is expected to cost consumers roughly $12 billion annually in lost energy savings and increase carbon dioxide emissions by 34 million tons per year by 2025.

“This is another example of the Trump administration attempting to roll back common sense, cost-effective energy efficiency standards that save consumers and businesses billions of dollars, protect public health, and reduce pollution, including the CO2 emissions that are driving the climate crisis," said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center.

The attorneys general of New York, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. joined New York in filing the comments.


In an effort to reduce domestic energy demand and increase energy efficiency, Congress directed the Energy Department to establish energy efficiency standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). EPCA authorizes the department to set minimum energy conservation standards for approximately 60 categories of appliances and equipment used in residences and businesses. Any new or amended standard must be designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified. EPCA also includes an anti-backsliding provision, which prohibits the Energy Department from weakening energy efficiency standards that have already been established by Congress or the department.


About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (State Impact Center) is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
For more information, visit our website