COLUMBUS, Ohio — Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) filed a response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) objection to HARDI’s motion to substitute as the petitioner in the regional efficiency standards lawsuit. HARDI asserts that the association meets all of the necessary prerequisites for substitution and that the pending settlement between the American Public Gas Association (APGA) and DOE does not address all of HARDI’s concerns, including what it says is the fair and open procedure that was denied by DOE’s application of the direct final rule process.

DOE, joined by environmental advocacy groups and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), filed pleadings that opposed HARDI’s motion to (1) substitute as a petitioner in the APGA v. DOE lawsuit, (2) vacate the furnace standards in the direct final rule, and (3) challenge the air conditioner standards in the rule.

DOE argued that HARDI does not have the legal standing to become the petitioner because it did not file its own petition for review of the standards. DOE shared the opinion that HARDI could not replace APGA as petitioner because the deadline to file a petition had passed (i.e., 60 days after the publication of the direct final rule).

HARDI stressed that nothing in the text of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) prevents the association from substitution, and the 60-day time period is non-jurisdictional.

“This filing provides more context and precedent for HARDI to be allowed to continue to pursue the entirety of the case if the APGA-DOE settlement is accepted by the court and is reflective of the overwhelming desire of our membership to see this case through,” said Jon Melchi, director of government affairs, HARDI.

AHRI noted that HARDI’s filing only briefly addresses AHRI’s concerns regarding the “uncertainty” that is created as a result of this action, and the impact on manufacturers if the court should grant the HARDI motion.

HARDI’s filing was the last in a series of motions related to a proposed settlement between APGA and the DOE which would remand the energy-efficiency standard for residential gas furnaces and require the DOE to reassess the rule. It is unknown when the court will rule on the proposed settlement and HARDI’s motion. As of now, the May 1, 2013 effective date of the nonweatherized furnace standards remains in place.

Because it is uncertain when the court will make a decision, AHRI said it is evaluating options to request a delay in the May 1 effective date of the furnace standards.

Publication date: 3/4/2013