Public Interest Comment: DOE's Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards

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By Mark Febrizio

May 07, 2019

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The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. As part of its mission, the Center conducts careful and independent analyses to assess rulemaking proposals from the perspective of the public interest. This comment on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed Process Rule for establishing new or revised energy conservation standards and test procedures does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest, but it is designed to evaluate the effect of DOE’s proposal on overall consumer welfare.

Introduction

In a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), DOE is proposing to “update and modernize the Department’s current rulemaking methodology titled, ‘Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration of New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Products’ (‘Process Rule’).”[1] While the agency has adhered to internal procedures for adopting energy conservation standards for years, the NPRM seeks to make those procedures binding on the agency and align its Process Rule with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), as amended. The proposed Process Rule attempts a number of changes and seeks comment on additional ways to improve the procedures. Specifically, DOE states that the document would improve DOE’s process in the following ways:

These proposals would address: (1) Processes that may no longer track the current legal requirements of EPCA; (2) processes that do not take into account the maturation of DOE’s appliance program to the point that modernization is necessary; (3) that DOE has not rigorously followed the Process Rule in many instances; (4) the need for regulatory reform to reduce the costs and burdens of rulemaking; and (5) the need to clarify that the Process Rule applies to commercial/industrial equipment. In evaluating and seeking to expand the positive impacts of the Process Rule, as well as remedying the above-described negative developments, this proposal will address the changed landscape of the rulemaking process under EPCA, and endeavor to modernize the Process Rule.[2]

DOE’s proposed rule includes many important provisions and is largely a step in the right direction. This public comment will focus on eight areas of interest in the revised Process Rule, highlighting both beneficial changes and additional areas for improvement.

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[1]    Department of Energy, “Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards: Proposed Procedures for Use in New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment,” 84 FR 3910, February 13, 2019, p. 3910. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/13/2019-01854/energy-conservation-program-for-appliance-standards-proposed-procedures-for-use-in-new-or-revised.

[2]    84 FR 3912.