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Court Rejects Administration’s Delay of Energy Efficiency Standards for Certain Products

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has affirmed a lower court ruling that the U.S. Department of Energy must publish energy efficiency standards for portable air conditioners, battery backup systems for computers and other electronic devices, air compressors and electrical packaged boilers. These standards were developed by the DOE and publicly announced in December 2016, towards the end of the Obama administration, but they were never published.

Environmental groups, along with consumer groups, cities and states, sued on 13 June 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to have the standards formally announced and implemented, and the lower court’s ruling has now been affirmed by the higher court. These standards should now be finalised by the DOE unless that agency files an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court and is granted a “stay.”

According to the plaintiffs, the DOE estimates the standards would save U.S. consumers US$8.4 billion over 30 years while reducing carbon emissions that lead to climate change. The U.S. Natural Resources Defence Council claims that since January 2017 the DOE has not issued or updated any efficiency standards and has missed legal deadlines for review of 18 product standards.

In related news, the DOE had announced on 4 September that it would be withdrawing the light bulb standards that were included in energy legislation implemented under President George W. Bush and finalised under the Obama administration. The standards would gradually phase out incandescent and halogen bulbs beginning in January 2020. According to the DOE, replacing a home's five most-used lights with energy-efficient bulbs would save each family US$75 annually. The DOE reported that energy-efficient light bulbs typically use 25 percent to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last three to 25 times longer. Environmental groups have vowed to challenge the withdrawal of the light bulb standards in court as well.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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