NEW YORK, NY — New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council and other national environmental and consumer groups, have filed lawsuits against the Bush administration over its decision to reduce the Clinton administration’s proposed 13-SEER air conditioner standard back to 12 SEER.

A 13-SEER standard would have made central air conditioning units 30% more efficient, while a 12-SEER standard provides a 20% efficiency increase. “This is a time when the federal government should be doing everything possible to encourage the efficient use of energy,” Spitzer said. “Instead, the Bush administration has dramatically weakened one of the most effective ways to conserve energy. With this lawsuit, we are seeking to compel the administration to adopt a more forward-looking course that will help lower energy bills and reduce air pollution.”

The Department of Energy postponed the effective date of the 13-SEER standard and on April 13 announced it would propose a 12-SEER standard. However, the states’ attorneys general said that federal law establishing the process for the standard prohibits the federal government from rolling it back. California Attorney General Lockyer said: “By ignoring and trying to eliminate the toughened efficiency standard for air conditioners, the Bush administration is unnecessarily making it harder for California.”

The states’ lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in Manhattan. The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Consumer Federation of America, the Association for Energy Affordability, and the Public Utility Law Project have filed a similar lawsuit.

Publication date: 06/25/2001