WASHINGTON — Cause of Action has filed a joint brief in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) following what it says is DOE’s “move to impose unreasonable energy efficiency standards on distributors, installers, and users of residential heating and cooling products in the United States.” The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of the Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

Cause of Action stated DOE violated both congressional intent and long-standing agency practice, exceeding its statutory authority when it circumvented the often-used public comment period and acted on its own to issue a direct final rule that imposes new regional energy efficiency standards.

“This is the first time a direct final rule has been challenged in court, even though agencies have issued hundreds, if not thousands, of direct final rules over the past twenty-plus years,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action. “This is also the first time of note that an agency has so blatantly ignored both procedure and the public, creating a huge accountability problem that has led us to join in this lawsuit.”

After receiving more than 30 adverse public comments calling upon the agency to withdraw the direct final rule, Cause of Action said DOE chose to ignore industry experts and professionals who are impacted by these new standards and opted instead to move forward with new regulations on manufacturers, contractors, and distributors of furnaces and air conditioning units. Cause of Action noted agency practice typically dictates that if even one adverse public comment is received, the agency will withdraw the direct final rule.

“By refusing to withdraw a highly controversial, major direct final rule establishing energy-conservation standards, DOE radically broke with established federal agency practice and the Administrative Procedure Act’s general requirement for notice-and-comment rulemaking for regulations,” said Epstein. “Apparently 30 objections were not enough to hold this rogue agency accountable, so we have turned to the court to defend the interest of the thousands affected by this type of arbitrary decision-making and regulatory overreach.”

DOE has the opportunity to file a response brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to address the concerns presented by HARDI and ACCA.

To read the brief filed by Cause of Action, click here.

Publication date: 6/18/2012