Attorney General James Files Lawsuit Challenging the Trump Administration over Irrational New Obstacles for the Issuance of Energy Efficiency Standards 

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James, joining a coalition of 14 attorneys general and the City of New York, filed a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) revisions to its Process Rule.

Adopted in 1996, the rule ensures DOE meets an Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) mandate to create energy conservation standards that benefit the public in a timely manner. The DOE's recent revisions, however, create a number of roadblocks to the adoption of new standards and the review of existing standards. For example, DOE imposes an unreasonably high threshold for energy efficiency savings — effectively prohibiting the adoption of any standard that does not result in energy savings equivalent to powering eight million homes for an entire year. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that this threshold is impermissibly high and would result in the unnecessary loss of significant energy savings.

“Energy efficiency is one of most effective ways to clean our air, fight climate change, save consumers money, and create jobs,” said Attorney General James. “Yet, despite its proven benefits, the Trump Administration has created serious obstacles to setting and updating energy standards for commercial and consumer products. I will continue to work with attorneys general from all across the country to challenge these senseless — and illegal — barriers to our nation’s continued progress in increasing energy efficiency.”  

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. DOE has achieved many of these benefits through rulemaking under the Process Rule. DOE’s revisions now threaten that progress. DOE itself acknowledges that the higher threshold will reduce energy savings and increase GHG and pollutant emissions. Despite this, DOE unlawfully exempted its action from the environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General James joined the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York.