Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Jun 13 2017

Suit follows letter from 11 states in April urging administration to publish new standards

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and 10 other states followed through on their promise today to sue the Trump Administration over its efforts to delay new energy efficiency standards that will result in significant savings for consumers and reduce environmental pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy established the new standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, power supplies, portable air conditioners, commercial boilers and compressors under the previous presidential administration. According to the complaint filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, these new standards will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 26 million metric tons per year — the equivalent of shutting down at least six coal-fired power plants.

The new standards will also save consumers at least $4.7 billion in energy costs by reducing electricity consumption by about 240 billion kilowatt hours over the next three decades — the annual electricity use of about 19 million homes.

Under the new administration, the U.S. Department of Energy has delayed publishing these new efficiency standards that have been in the works for years.

“The Trump Administration has no legal right to stand in the way of these important standards,” Ferguson said. “The benefits to consumers and the environment are too important to allow the Trump Administration to block these standards.”

According to the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Department is responsible for setting minimum energy conservation standards for approximately 60 categories of appliances and equipment. The Department estimates that federal product energy standards for all categories of appliances and equipment will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6.5 billion tons by 2030 — equivalent to taking all automobiles off the roads worldwide for nearly a year and a half.

The new rules for the five categories of products were declared “final” by the Department in December, and publicly posted for 45-day error correction review — a standard step in the rulemaking process. After the review period, the Department has 30 days to submit the rules for publication in the Federal Register — a final step the Department under the new administration has not taken.

In April, Ferguson, along with 10 other states, served notice on the Department of Energy of their intent to file suit if the Department did not end its delay in publishing the new standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, power supplies, portable air conditioners, commercial boilers and compressors.

The administration’s inaction is a violation of the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and Federal Register Act. The states ask the court to force the Department of Energy to publish the new standards. If the new standards are not published, they cannot go into effect.

Ferguson and other state attorneys general have already been successful in challenging the administration’s delays of other energy efficiency rules.

After the states filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in April over delays with new ceiling fan standards, the administration decided to publish the new standards for ceiling fans, allowing them to go into effect.

In addition to Washington, the coalition of states, led by New York and California, also includes Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont. The City of New York has also joined the suit.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov