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DOE Agrees to Tighten Energy Efficiency Standards for Appliances
The agreement resolves lawsuits filed in Sept. 2005 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and two consumer organizations; the City of New York; and 15 states, led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The suits charged that DOE was as much as 13 years late in meeting congressionally mandated deadlines to update energy efficiency standards for a wide range of products.
"This agreement is great news for our pocketbooks - and for our health - because efficiency performance standards are the most successful tool we have to cut energy costs and pollution," says Katherine Kennedy, NRDC attorney. "There have been a lot of technological advances over the last decade, and it's high time that we incorporated them across the board."
Congress first enacted laws for tougher efficiency standards during the energy crisis of 1975, and in the 1980s directed DOE to periodically update them by specific deadlines. The laws cover roughly two dozen major types of commercial and residential equipment, including heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters, industrial boilers and motors, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and certain kinds of lighting. Under the law, DOE must set new standards at the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective level possible. The agency cannot weaken established standards.
The standards that DOE will issue under this agreement could save enough energy each year to meet the needs of as many as 12 million American households, and avoid the need to build dozens of new electric power plants, according to NRDC. By DOE's own estimates, the standards have the potential to help combat global warming by slashing annual carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 103 million metric tons a year - the equivalent of taking more than 18 million cars and light trucks off the nation's roads.
"This is a historic opportunity. DOE and manufacturers should now join forces with states, power companies, citizens and energy experts to establish the strongest possible efficiency standards - as required by law," says Kennedy. "NRDC will be watching to make sure the new standards maximize savings and protect consumers and the environment."