Environment America, U.S. PIRG and other advocacy groups file federal lawsuit over new process to determine the stringency of energy efficiency standards

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Environment America

SAN FRANCISCO — Environment America, U.S. PIRG and other leading advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Friday to protect energy efficiency standards. The suit challenges the Department of Energy’s new rule that changes the process by which it determines the stringency of energy efficiency standards. The lawsuit follows one filed earlier this year dealing with similar issues. 

“The system the government uses to set the highest possible energy efficiency standards ain’t broke and the administration shouldn’t be meddling trying to fix it,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America’s 100% Renewable Energy campaign. “For decades, common-sense efficiency standards for manufactured goods have reduced air pollution and conserved water to the benefit of all Americans. It makes no sense to go backward on a practical process that protects both our planet and our pocketbooks.”

For the past 30 years, the DOE has tried to balance energy efficiency mandates with how much it would cost product manufacturers and consumers to achieve those standards. The government continuously weighs that trade-off, starting by trying to maximize energy savings, then progressively “walks down” to a less stringent standard (and potentially lower levels after that) until it determines it can economically justify the chosen standard.

The DOE’s new rule would overhaul this system and establish a new process in which it simultaneously compares the benefits and burdens of multiple possible standards to determine whether a particular standard is economically justified. This would both make it easier for the current administration to justify lower energy efficiency standards and make it more difficult for future administration to defend higher ones.

The lawsuit was filed with NRDC and the Sierra Club (represented by Earthjustice) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.