While a previous court document identified March 3 as the last day for the expected filing of a settlement in the ongoing regional standards lawsuit, it appears the judicial system may need a few extra days.

Parties in the lawsuit formally extended the court-ordered postponement this morning, allowing more time to finalize the case’s mediated conclusion. By March 17, or sooner, all parties and intervenors will “notify the court concerning the status of settlement negotiations, including approval and implementation. Counsel for all parties and intervenors have authorized us to state that they do not oppose the relief requested in this motion,” stated the brief.

The latest motion extends an abeyance motion filed Feb. 18 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that formally suspended all court proceedings until March 3 to accommodate the pending mediation.

Why the Delay?

The Feb. 18 abeyance motion signifies that all parties in the case were nearing agreement on a settlement, stating: “With the assistance of a mediator, through this court’s appellate mediation program, all parties and intervenors are nearing agreement on final terms of a settlement of this case. We anticipate that the negotiations on settlement and implementation will be completed by March 3, 2014. In addition, the government will seek approval of the settlement pursuant to 28 C.F.R. Part Y. We will undertake our best efforts to obtain such approval within the same timeframe.”

While March 3 was the target date, it appears as if the court may need a bit more time to finalize the settlement.

“The last abeyance motion designated March 3 as the target end date, but a short extension was necessary,” said Charlie McCrudden, vice president for government relations, ACCA. “These things take time, and it seems this is taking a bit longer than originally anticipated.”

While the new motion extends the deadline to March 17, McCrudden doesn’t anticipate the need to use the entire extension. “I expect to see something submitted to the court sooner than that.”

The Long and Winding Road

In December 2013, the court adopted a briefing schedule jointly submitted by the Department of Energy (DOE); American Public Gas Association (APGA); ACCA; the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI); and other parties involved in the regional standards lawsuit. The Feb. 18 abeyance motion suspends the briefing schedule as parties continue mediation.

The DOE also filed an abeyance motion in November 2012, less than two months before settling with the American Public Gas Association (APGA) and filing a joint motion with APGA to vacate and remand for further rulemaking the regional standards for nonweatherized natural gas furnaces. That joint motion has not yet been accepted by the court.

To view a timeline of events in the regional standards case, visit http://bit.ly/RegionalStandards.

Publication date: 3/3/2014

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