The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council is hailing a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to adopt stricter energy-efficiency standards for nearly two dozen commercial and residential appliances as a victory not only for environmentalists but for the American public. In partnership with low-income consumer organizations, the City of New York and 15 states, NRDC originally filed the suit in federal court back in September 2005, charging that DOE was more than a decade late in complying with Congressionally mandated deadlines to update energy-efficiency standards for appliances.
Congress first enacted laws to improve energy-efficiency for heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters, industrial boilers and motors, dishwashers, clothes dryers and certain kinds of lighting during the energy crisis of 1975. It later directed DOE to raise standards according to a set schedule as technologies improved. NRDC and the other plaintiffs in the case charged that the agency should have updated its standards as much as 13 years ago.
“This agreement is great news for our pocketbooks—and for our health—because efficiency performance standards are the most successful tool we have to cut energy costs and pollution,” says NRDC attorney Katherine Kennedy. “There have been a lot of technological advances over the last decade, and it’s high time that we incorporated them across the board.”