NAFEM to oppose DOE plan to revisit the 2020 Process Rule

Although it published a final Process Rule in 2020 following an extensive comment period, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it is revisiting the Rule, essentially undoing all of the progress made towards providing clarity in how the Department will set energy-efficiency appliance standards. “What DOE is proposing is taking us back to a less efficient, less productive process,” said Tammy Helminski, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. “It is unclear how the agency’s proposed Rule revisions would guide either better decision making or energy savings.”

In 2014, NAFEM sued DOE to illustrate how broken the then-current process was for setting energy-efficiency standards. “Our subsequent engagement with the agency, including at a 2017 Small Business Association (SBA) roundtable, helped usher in the revised 2020 Process Rule that was more predictable and efficient,” said Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, NAFEM’s vice president, regulatory & technical affairs. “What DOE is now proposing is a major step in the wrong direction.”

According to DOE, two events caused it to reconsider the approach to establishing and amending energy conservation standards and test procedures.” These include lawsuits filed in 2020 by non-governmental organizations and a coalition of states alleging that DOE has failed to meet rulemaking deadlines for 25 consumer products and commercial equipment under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). DOE also cited the Jan. 20 Executive Order 13990 that instructs agencies to review recent regulations that may be inconsistent with “policies related to the protection of public health and the environment, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering the nation’s resilience to climate change.”

“Ironically, by revisiting the Process Rule, DOE will lose even more time that could have been spent making new rules and catching up on its missed deadlines,” Tammy said.

“And if we are going to hit the administration’s 2050 target for carbon neutrality, we need a roadmap to get there,” Charlie added. “Suggesting that DOE can change the process it uses to set energy efficiency standards whenever it decides to do so is not a roadmap, it’s more like a scavenger hunt.”

NAFEM will submit comments and engage with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other stakeholders to oppose these proposed changes. All manufacturers are encouraged to participate. Comments are due May 27.