Petitioners’ challenge is primarily a procedural one, asserting that DOE cannot issue a rule for SEER 12 and must go forward with SEER 13 as published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2001.3 However, this attempt to invalidate the agency reconsideration of the SEER 13 rule would harm consumers by precluding a full consideration of their concerns. This is particularly true given DOE’s hurried and haphazard effort to promulgate SEER 13 in the waning days of the previous Administration, a process that limited the opportunity for consumer input.
Substantively, it is equally clear that SEER 13 violates the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (the Act).4 There are several provisions in the Act designed to protect consumers against excessively stringent energy conservation standards for covered appliances. As DOE’s own analysis demonstrates, these provisions were violated by the SEER 13 standard, lending further support to the agency’s subsequent decision to set the standard at SEER 12, the level originally proposed for central air conditioners. In addition, SEER 12 would preserve greater consumer choice than SEER 13.