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May 6, 2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL CALLS ON DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO WITHDRAW PROPOSED REVISION OF PROCESS RULE

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with a coalition of 15 state attorneys general and New York City, filed a comment letter calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to withdraw its proposal to revise its Process Rule. Adopted in 1996, the rule provides guidance and transparency to the public and ensures the DOE meets an Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) mandate to create energy conservation standards that benefit the public in a timely manner.

In the letter submitted Monday, Raoul and the coalition assert that the revisions proposed by the DOE would unlawfully impede the DOE’s energy efficiency rulemaking and are contrary to energy efficiency requirements under the EPCA. The DOE’s proposed revision would create extra steps and thresholds as part of the rulemaking process to make the adoption of energy efficiency standards more difficult.

“The Department of Energy’s proposal would needlessly hinder its successful program, which simultaneously saves consumers money on their energy bills and reduces climate-change-causing carbon pollution,” Raoul said. “I urge the department to withdraw this action and instead devote its resources to advancing energy efficiency standards.”

The DOE’s energy efficiency program has resulted in substantial economic and environmental benefits, with projected consumer savings of more than $2 trillion, and 2.6 billion tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. The DOE has achieved many of these benefits through rulemakings under the Process Rule, but the department’s proposed revisions create a number of roadblocks to adopt and review standards. The proposed rule would eliminate standards that do not meet an unreasonably high energy savings threshold that is contrary to the EPCA, resulting in the loss of future energy savings and the associated environmental benefits. In addition, the DOE’s proposal would make the Process Rule binding, giving industry opportunities to sue the agency if it adopts standards seen by industry as too stringent or if it reasonably deviates from the Process Rule to further the EPCA’s purposes.

In the letter, Raoul and the attorneys general point out a number of concerns with the DOE’s proposal to revise the rule:

  • The revisions would create procedural hurdles to impede the DOE’s energy efficiency rulemaking process.
  • Under the proposal, the DOE improperly defers to private industry by ignoring the incremental benefits of appropriate energy efficiency rules and presuming industry test procedures satisfy the requirements of the EPCA.
  • The proposal would undermine the DOE’s substantive decision making in rulemaking, reducing the public benefits secured through energy conservation standards and disregarding potential energy savings.
  • Changes to the rule’s objectives are unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act.
  • The DOE violates the National Environmental Policy Act, requiring agencies to assess the environmental consequences of actions before they are undertaken.

Joining Raoul in submitting the letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the city of New York.

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