Obama Orders New Rules to Raise Energy Efficiency
By JOHN M. BRODER
WASHINGTON — President Obama ordered the Energy Department on Thursday to immediately draft long-overdue standards to make a variety of appliances and light bulbs more energy efficient.
Over the last three decades, Congress has demanded stricter efficiency standards on 30 categories of products, as varied as residential air-conditioners and industrial boilers. But successive administrations have failed to write regulations to enforce the laws, even when ordered to by the courts.
In remarks to employees of the Energy Department, and in a presidential memorandum, Mr. Obama said he intended to comply with the laws, starting this year with nine categories of products, including ovens, vending machines, microwave ovens, dishwashers and light bulbs.
He said the new standards would cut energy use and reduce emissions of the heat-trapping gases that scientists blame for global warming.
“This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ll save through these simple steps over the next 30 years the amount of energy produced over a two-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in America.”
All recent administrations have been tardy in drafting the standards, leading to a lawsuit in 2005 by 14 states and a number of consumer and environmental groups. A year later, a federal court ordered the Bush administration to begin issuing the standards. But former President George W. Bush left office with only seven standards completed and 15 still to be written, according to government documents.
Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said that in addition to moving quickly to complete the new rules, Mr. Obama should toughen some standards issued by the Bush administration, particularly for industrial furnaces and transformers. Mr. deLaski also said some of the most significant savings would come from the lowly light bulb.
The Energy Department is under orders to develop stricter efficiency standards for florescent light bulbs and reflector bulbs, saving businesses and households as much as $67 billion over the next 30 years. Congress has ordered the phasing out of the traditional incandescent light bulb by 2014.