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HomeGeneralCourt Condemns Biden’s Home Appliance Efficacy Rules As Counterproductive

Court Condemns Biden’s Home Appliance Efficacy Rules As Counterproductive

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A picture of President Joe Biden
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A federal appeals court struck down Department of Energy (DOE) regulatory actions targeting dishwashers. The action is part of the Biden administration’s aggressive climate and energy efficiency agenda. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the DOE’s decision.

The court ruled against President Joe Biden’s energy agenda on Monday, January 8, 2024. A federal judge ruled that the president rolled back Trump-era loopholes for efficiency rules on dishwashers and washing machines without enough consideration.

In January 2022, the DOE reversed two rules passed under former President Donald Trump. The changed rules exempted “quick” dishwashers, clothes washers, and clothes dryers from efficiency regulations. According to reports, the Trump-era rules classified dishwashers that took less than 60 minutes as “short cycle” appliances. 

Also, it classified clothes washers and dryers that took less than 30 minutes in the same category. Hence, they exempted those appliances from efficiency regulations. However, the court condemned the DOE’s decision under Biden. The court claimed that the agency didn’t sufficiently consider the ramifications of its change.

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The court added that the DOE didn’t consider the former administration’s standards for energy efficiency. However, the panel’s ruling is a victory for Republican states which sued the DOE over its actions. It is also a win for consumer advocacy groups, which have argued against overly burdensome standards for home appliances.

When, under Biden, the DOE changed the previous rules, energy industry insiders described the move as a “Trump gimmick.” They added that Biden needed to undo the change. In response to the new rule, Louisiana led a group of states to sue the DOE.

The states included Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. They argued that the standards were burdensome for home appliances. Consequently, a trio of Republican-appointed judges ruled for the 5th Circuit that the DOE must reconsider its “Repeal Rule.”

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In addition, the judges, Edith Brown Clement, Andrew Oldham, and Cory Wilson, condemned the DOE’s attempt to regulate water consumption. Writing for the panel, Oldham said Congress only authorized the DOE to regulate showerhead water consumption. 

Oldham added that the agency could only regulate water consumption in faucets, closets, and urinals, but not in dishwashers or laundry machines. In addition, Oldham noted in his 25-page ruling that adjusting energy rules was a priority of Biden’s from the start. 

However, he said the DOE ignored any adverse consequences of repealing the prior rule. Oldham said the rule included frustrating consumers with “high-efficiency” but pragmatically inconvenient appliances.

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The case dates back to 2020 when the Trump administration adopted standards that the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEl) had crafted. According to CEl, those standards increased the sale of faster dishwashers and washing machines that use more water and energy.

However, shortly after President Biden took office in 2021, DOE moved to repeal the standards. Hence, the agency finalized the action in early 2022. Months later, a dozen Republican state attorneys general filed a legal challenge.

The state attorneys general asked the court to reinstate the 2020 regulations. Then-attorney general of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, argued that the washing machine regulations are “unlawful, ineffective, and absolutely ridiculous.”

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