Senators Promise Continued Oversight of Energy Efficiency

Washington–Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday welcomed the Administration’s announcement of its intention to issue a rule regarding energy efficiency of large electrical appliances. But they said the Administration has missed several of its own deadlines, and actual issuance of the regulation is still a long way off. The Administration announced today its so-called Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for energy efficiency standards regarding residential furnaces and boilers, commercial air conditioners and heat pumps, and electric distribution transformers.

“These critical standards would eliminate the need to build 80 power plants and dramatically reduce pollution. In fact, the greenhouse gas savings is equivalent to removing 9 million cars from the road,” Collins said. “I urge the Department of Energy to implement these regulations as soon as possible.” “These standards could save enough energy to meet the needs of six million American households,” Lieberman said. “And yet – while it appears that our inquiry has finally gotten the Department to take the first step – we are still years away from an actual rule.” In a letter to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, dated July 23, 2004, Collins and Lieberman asked for an explanation for why the Department has failed to stick to its published schedules for moving the “high priority” rulemaking forward. Secretary Abraham responded by assuring the Senators the Department would announce its intention to issue a rule in the immediate future. In 2001, the Energy Department designated the rulemaking for residential furnaces and boilers, commercial air conditioners and heat pumps, and electric distribution transformers as “high priorities.” Rules regarding all three categories were supposed to be complete by the fall of 2004. In each succeeding year, the Department has called the issuance of these rules “high priorities, and yet, it has missed, and moved forward, each of its targeted deadlines – even for the initial stage, known as Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. “With the nation facing the prospect of sustained high energy costs, serious concerns about electric reliability, ongoing public health problems linked to power sector air pollution and a need for greater energy independence, improved energy efficiency makes more sense than ever,” Collins and Lieberman said in their letter to Abraham.