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November 9, 2020
Contact: Stephen Read

State Attorneys General Sue Energy Department Over Widespread Failure to Review and Update Energy Efficiency Standards

Coalition seeks court order to compel Energy Department to comply with its statutory obligations, complete responsibilities ‘unreasonably delayed and unlawfully withheld.'

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 15 state attorneys general led by New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the Energy Department today over the department’s failure to comply with its statutory obligations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) to update energy efficiency standards for 25 categories of consumer and commercial appliances.

“The Trump Administration’s abandonment of its responsibility to update key energy efficiency standards is not only illegal, it also threatens to worsen air pollution and cost consumers billions of dollars,” said AG James. “This lawsuit seeks to enforce the law and compel prompt action to strengthen these critically important and impactful energy-saving measures. My office will continue to force the Trump Administration to fully meet its legal responsibilities to protect the health, environment, and well-being of all Americans.”
“The Trump administration’s abject failure to implement the energy conservation program is part of a broader pattern of disregard for consumers’ interests, climate change and basic common sense,” said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “The administration is allowing appliances to consume more energy, while also seeking to ensure that the power grid itself remains dependent on more expensive, more polluting sources of electricity. Consumers pay the price at every step: with higher utility bills, with increased medical expenses as a result of continued exposure to harmful air pollution, and with the ballooning societal costs of heat waves, drought, flooding and other climate impacts.”
The attorneys general seek a court order “requiring [the Energy Department] to comply with its statutory deadlines and other requirements for such products according to an expeditious schedule to be determined and enforced” by the court. Strengthened efficiency standards for the product categories at issue “could save over $580 billion in energy costs and avoid over two billion metric tons of CO2 emissions by the year 2050.”
The attorneys general emphasize that the EPCA energy conservation program is a win-win for consumers and for the climate. The more than 60 categories of appliances covered by the EPCA account for “about 90 percent of the total amount of energy consumed in homes in the United States, 60 percent of the energy used in the country’s commercial buildings, and 30 percent of the energy used in our nation’s industries.” By 2030, existing EPCA energy efficiency standards will cumulatively save consumers more than $2 trillion in energy costs, and will yield 7.9 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions reductions, “an amount greater than all United States greenhouse gas emissions generated in a year.”
The attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., along with the City of New York, joined AG James in filing the lawsuit.


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