WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama issued a memorandum that instructs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to take all necessary steps to finalize new appliance efficiency standards “as expeditiously as possible.”

As noted by the president, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) established deadlines for DOE to set energy efficiency standards for a broad class of residential and commercial products, and in 2005, DOE was sued for allegedly failing to meet the deadlines and other requirements of the EPCA. In November 2006, DOE entered into a consent decree, under which DOE agreed to publish the final rules for 22 product categories by specific deadlines, the latest of which is June 30, 2011. In addition, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) directed DOE to establish efficiency standards for additional product categories.

Although DOE has made progress on meeting its consent decree, the agency remains subject to deadlines on 15 of the 22 product categories, as well as a number of additional product categories added by the EISA. President Obama directed DOE to focus its efforts on the five energy efficiency rules with deadlines prior to Aug. 8, and then to prioritize its efforts, tackling first the standards that will result in the greatest savings, while still meeting all applicable deadlines.

The president announced the new memorandum during a visit to the DOE. Regarding the efficiency standards, he stated that they will avoid the use of “tremendous amounts” of energy. “We’ll save through these simple steps, over the next 30 years, the amount of energy produced over a two-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in America.”

Publication date:02/16/2009