Comments Regarding DOE’s FY 2004 Priorities for the Appliance Standards Rulemaking Process

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is a non-profit public interest organization committed to advancing the principles of free markets and limited government. CEI has a longstanding interest in bringing to light the potentially deleterious consequences of regulations, which are often neglected by federal agencies in their attempts to adopt a regulatory agenda. CEI has previously participated in appliance conservation standards rulemakings, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that the interests of consumers are represented.       


Since its enactment in 1987, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) has been aggressively implemented by DOE. By now, most major energy-using home appliances have been subjected to multiple rounds of successively tighter standards. Furthermore, given the wave of stringent new standards promulgated in the final months of the Clinton administration and scheduled to be implemented in the coming years, this fast regulatory pace will continue for some time.  


The goal of providing technologically feasible and economically justified energy conservation standards for major energy-using home appliances has largely been accomplished, if not exceeded. The fact that there is relatively little left to do is reflected in DOE’s proposed 2004 priorities, which shift the emphasis away from home appliances and towards commercial appliances, which have not yet been as heavily regulated.   Nonetheless, DOE’s proposal does place a few residential appliance standards in the high priority category, including ceiling fans, torchieres, furnaces and boilers, as well as certain niche air conditioners and heat pumps not covered under the 2002 rule. 


As the comments below elucidate, CEI believes that additional residential appliance standards are likely to be adverse to the interests of American consumers, and that any further rulemakings should be undertaken with great caution.