August 11, 2020
Contact: Tom Lalley

Sixteen State AGs Intend to Sue Energy Department for Failing to Update Energy Efficiency Standards

Energy Department has ignored its non-discretionary duty and cost consumers billions by not updating standards for 25 categories of consumer, commercial and industrial products.

Washington, D.C. New York Attorney General Letitia James yesterday led a coalition of 16 state attorneys general in notifying the Energy Department of their intent to sue over numerous missed statutory deadlines under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) for reviewing and amending energy efficiency standards. The missed deadlines relate to 25 categories of consumer, commercial and industrial products, including dishwashers, refrigerators, and water heaters. The AGs warn that they will sue to compel the department to fulfill its statutory obligations if it fails to take immediate action to update the standards within 60 days. In their notice, the AGs emphasize that the department’s failure to comply with the law is harming consumers, public health and the environment. The potential benefits of updating standards for just four common appliances — refrigerators and freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers and room air conditioners — include “annual reductions of more than $7.5 billion in consumer utility costs and 22 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2035.”

"State attorneys general are once again calling out the Trump administration's failure to update energy efficiency standards that have saved Americans more than $2 trillion off their energy bills, while avoiding 2.6 billion tons of carbon pollution," said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. "It's a shameful trifecta: the administration is violating the law, taking money out of the pockets of consumers, and increasing already-too-high levels of pollution."
Passed in 1975, the EPCA created a comprehensive approach to federal energy policy with the goals of reducing domestic energy demand and increasing energy efficiency. The law authorizes the Energy Department to set minimum energy conservation standards for approximately 60 categories of appliances and equipment used in residences and businesses, and requires the department to periodically review and update existing standards to ensure that they are as stringent as technologically feasible and economically justified. The EPCA also prohibits the department from “backsliding,” or weakening a standard once it has been established. The energy efficiency program under the EPCA is estimated to have saved consumers more than $2 trillion in energy costs and prevented 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions to date.
The attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., along with the City of New York, joined AG James in filing the notice of intent to sue.


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. For more information, visit our website