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Attorney General William Tong

12/31/2019

AG Tong Joins Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration Rule Undermining Energy Efficiency Standards for Dishwashers

(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a lawsuit challenging the Department of Energy’s (DOE) final rule undermining current energy efficiency standards for residential dishwashers.

The rule, issued at the request of the anti-regulatory group Competitive Enterprise Institute, unjustifiably exempts a class of dishwashers from energy efficiency standards by creating a new, unnecessary category of dishwashers defined only by shorter cycle times. In the lawsuit, the coalition intends to argue that the final rule violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“These regulations exist for a reason and changing the rules to exclude certain dishwashers from energy efficiency standards is both illegal and unnecessary,” Attorney General Tong said. “We’re suing to protect these critical energy efficiency standards that reduce pollution and prevent consumers from facing higher energy bills.”

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act directs the DOE to establish energy efficiency standards covering most major household products, including dishwashers. The DOE’s long-standing energy efficiency program has resulted in substantial economic and environmental benefits, with more than $2 trillion in projected consumer savings and 2.6 billion tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The Energy Policy Conservation Act’s anti-backsliding provision prohibits DOE from “prescrib[ing] any amended standard which increases the maximum allowable energy use . . . of a covered product.”

In October 2020, the DOE – ignoring concerns raised in comments by a California-led coalition – moved to finalize its proposal to create a new category of dishwashers defined only by shorter cycle times. By creating a new product class, the DOE claims that short-cycle dishwashers are not subject to existing energy efficiency standards for residential dishwashers. In the lawsuit, the coalition intends to argue that the final rule:
Violates Energy Policy Conservation Act’s anti-backsliding provision;
Fails to comply with National Environmental Policy Act by invoking an inapplicable categorical exclusion to avoid conducting an environmental review; and
Is arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Attorney General Tong joins the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.
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