Biden Energy Department proposal on gas stove standards likely violates existing law

July 19, 2023
Ben Marquis

Despite prior claims to the contrary and even outright denials, it is now perfectly clear that President Joe Biden's administration is working to significantly crack down on the manufacture and use of gas-powered stoves and other household appliances, ostensibly in the name of protecting the environment.

Yet, following a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday on Energy Department proposals in that regard, it was asserted that the Biden administration has engaged in an "alarming violation" of existing law in order to achieve its goals, the Washington Examiner reported.

That law is the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, passed by Congress in 1979, which authorized the DoE to set energy conservation standards for various consumer products but barred the department from imposing standards that are "not technologically feasible, not economically justified, or does not result in 'significant conservation of energy.'"

Hearing on Biden admin's "regulatory assault" on household appliances

It was last week that the Republican-led House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs announced a hearing for Tuesday, July 18, that was titled "Cancelling Consumer Choice: Examining the Biden Administration’s Regulatory Assault on Americans’ Home Appliances."

In a statement at that time, subcommittee Chairman Pat Fallon (R-TX) said, "The Department of Energy’s wave of new standards on everyday appliances from stoves to dishwashers to lightbulbs embodies the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach to over-regulate Americans’ day-to-day lives."

"The Biden Administration is doubling down on policies that will only make American families’ lives more expensive, after already ignoring the skyrocketing inflation it inflicted," he added. "The American people deserve to further understand these bizarre, targeted efforts to regulate their appliances out of existence."

Proposed gas stove standards likely violate existing law

During his opening statement at the start of Tuesday's hearing, Chairman Fallon said that the Biden DoE's proposed rules and new standards constituted "a tidal wave of regulatory burdens affecting Americans’ daily lives" related to not just gas-powered stoves but a range of other common household appliances.

He noted that the subcommittee had been attempting to receive testimony from a DoE official since May, but the department had refused to cooperate until now, which necessitated prior hearings involving "nongovernmental witnesses" who provided "valuable insight" on the DoE's plans -- including that the gas stove standards were "not a sincere attempt to improve efficiency."

After addressing criticism from Democratic members about multiple hearings on the same topic, Fallon signaled agreement with the frustration and said, "We are glad the Department finally showed up to answer questions about the burdensome rules they want to impose on our constituents. The gas stove rule in particular presents alarming violations of EPCA and erroneous analysis according to the experts who testified in place of invited Department officials."

He further asserted that the "Department relied on an uncited, court-supervised consent decree and dubious cites to the law as grounds for refusing to testify at this earlier hearing -- not to mention an apparent endorsement of the "sue-and-settle" practice favored by leftist environmentalist groups, which involves allowing "special interest groups to achieve regulatory goals by forcing agencies to implement policies in response to litigation by friendly organizations that occurs in secret to bypass the legislative and regulatory processes."

"There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the coordinated efforts between radical environmental activists and subsequent agency rulemakings that stand to impact even the smallest aspect of our daily lives," Fallon added. "If an agency is going to propose rules that stand to upend entire sectors of our appliance industry, they should be ready to answer questions about them."

Proposed standards would be burdensome and costly for most Americans

Following the hearing that included testimony from Dr. Geraldine Richmond, the DoE's Under Secretary for Science and Innovation, the Subcommittee released some of its "key takeaways" from the information received from the witness and others, including that at least half of new gas stoves would be impacted by the proposed standards, that it would cost around $183 million to make existing gas stoves compliant with the rule, and that DoE's proposals more broadly, by its own admission, would render around 96 percent of existing appliances non-compliant.

It was also further reiterated that the gas stove standards proposal was in violation of the EPCA in that it was neither "technically feasible" nor "economically justified," and the subcommittee also confirmed that lawsuits filed by environmentalist groups had played a role in the crafting of various proposed standards, despite more claims to the contrary from Richmond.

In one particularly notable exchange involving Richmond and Rep. Scott Perry (R-CA), it was revealed that the witness had absolutely no idea how burdensome and costly it would be for the average American family to switch from a gas stove to an electric one, as the proposed standard would force many to do, which suggests that the DoE did not fully consider the impact of its rules when formulating its dubious "efficiency savings calculation."

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