Court strikes down Biden administration's change to appliance regulation

 January 10, 2024

It has been two years since the Department of Energy (DOE) revoked a Trump-era rule that eased energy use regulations on "short cycle" home appliances.

Yet this week saw a federal court smack the Biden administration down when it ruled that the change was unlawful. 

Judge calls change to appliance regulations "arbitrary and capricious"

According to Breitbart, the decision came down on Monday from a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

It was written by Judge Andrew Oldham, a 2018 appointee of former President Donald Trump, who argued that the rule change was "arbitrary and capricious."

Oldham went on to maintain that "it is unclear that the DOE has any statutory authority to regulate water use in dishwashers and clothes washers."

"Even if DOE could consider dishwashers' and clothes washers' efficiency in both energy use and water use, the 2020 Rules likely promoted greater efficiency in both categories than the Repeal Rule," he wrote.

New short cycle appliance class was created in 2020

"Assuming both energy conservation metrics are on the table, the States argue, and DOE does not appear to dispute, that one important aspect of that problem is whether appliance regulations actually reduce energy and water consumption," Oldham added.

Breitbart noted that the controversy began in 2018 when the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) requested that the DOE treat a new class of appliances differently under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

The DOE agreed, and ultimately created a class of short-cycle dishwashers that perform an entire cycle within one hour or less.

However, President Joe Biden ordered the DOE to review the Dishwasher Rule and Laundry Rule, both of which were rescinded in 2022.

Biden policy "causing Americans to use more energy and water"

Oldham recalled how the DOE received comments ahead of the 2018 change which noted that existing regulations were counterproductive.

Specifically, critics complained that "many consumers end up running their dishwasher multiple times to get dishes clean" thus making use of more water and energy.

"So Americans who want clean dishes or clothes may use more energy and more water to preclean, reclean, or handwash their stuff before, after, or in lieu of using DOE-regulated appliances," Oldham wrote.

He stressed that the DOE "failed to adequately consider appliance performance, substitution effects, and the ample record evidence that DOE’s conservation standards are causing Americans to use more energy and water rather than less."

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