According to numerous media reports, President Donald Trump and his administration are proposing to cut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) budget by 24 percent. This $2 billion cut could potentially eliminate 38 of its programs.
One of the programs rumored to be on the chopping block is the EPA’s Energy Star program.
The voluntary Energy Star program was created by the EPA in 1992 to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Initially focusing on computers, the program expanded in 1995 to include residential heating and cooling equipment.
The government currently spends $57 million annually to operate the program, which makes up about 0.7 percent of the EPA’s $8.1 billion budget.
Since its inception, the EPA claims Energy Star has saved consumers $362 billion on their utility bills and the environment from 2.5 billion tons in greenhouse gases.
REPUBLICANS STAND STRONG
It should come as no surprise that the Trump administration is targeting the EPA and its pro-climate agenda.
During his campaign, Trump said scrapping the EPA was an aspirational goal of his.
Over the last several years, his Twitter account has been flooded with anti-global-warming declarations, such as “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese,” “Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!,” and “I’m not a believer in man-made global warming.”
Several members of Trump’s cabinet, including Scott Pruitt, EPA; Ryan Zinke, Department of the Interior; Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State; Rick Perry, Department of Energy; and others have at least hinted that Obama’s ambitious EPA programs should be rolled back under their direction.
The writing is on the wall.
CUT THE EPA
Politicians and citizens in favor of cutting the EPA’s budget believe this action is necessary to roll back regulations that are harmful to the economy and the country’s energy security. They insist this is the first step toward peeling back the overzealous use of bureaucratic red tape that defined the previous administration.
Americans should be allowed to choose the products they’d like regardless how efficient or inefficient they are. That’s how capitalism works, right? Shouldn’t consumers do their own research rather than rely on the government to tell them what to buy?
Regarding the future of the Energy Star program, one potential solution may lie in privatization. This would allow those who support the program to fund it appropriately and take taxpayers off the hook.
Underwriters Laboratories would be a good example of a similar program that operates under private leadership.
SAVE THE EPA
Those in favor of retaining the EPA’s current level of funding believe reversing global warming is among the pinnacle of priorities for future generations.
To them, mankind is leaving its oily fingerprints all over the face of the earth. NASA and other scientific organizations claim to have data that supports this narrative. The time to address this mission-critical threat is now, no matter the cost.
Regarding the privatization of the Energy Star program, many questions arise. Under existing Energy Star standards, each product must undergo testing by a third-party organization to make sure it meets certain specifications. Would that continue to be the case under privatization? Who would determine which specifications would be included? Would the information remain neutral or would it be skewed in favor of those calling the shots? Would Energy Star labels come with a cost and exclusivity, via a membership to an authoritative organization?
Can the inmates adequately run the asylum?
The existing Energy Star labels provide consumers a clear, easy-to-understand form of identification and information. Consumers and contractors use these labels to compare and contrast performance when buying and selling equipment.
Would American commerce significantly benefit if the government peeled these labels off and tossed them in the garbage?
I believe the Energy Star label should remain in some form or fashion, though I’m not convinced it needs to remain a government-funded initiative.
When it comes to efficiency, most manufacturers in the HVAC arena seem to be doing a pretty good job of policing themselves.
Highly efficient products are in demand. Many manufacturers are releasing prototypes that exceed government regulations years before they’re even drafted. Consumers are thirsty for energy efficiency as they yearn for every ounce of cost savings. A penny saved is a penny earned.
Most manufacturers compete on a global scale. Their products are designed to exceed efficiency requirements set by the EU and other worldwide organizations. OEMs are unlikely to create lesser products simply because the American government says they can.
Many in the industry have complained that their voices have gone unheard in the regulatory process over the last eight years. Perhaps privatization of the Energy Star program — and various other segments of the EPA — would allow industry stakeholders to take the wheel.
What do you think?
Publication date: 3/20/2017Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!