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September 03, 2013

New Energy Efficiency Standards Announced

ObamaClimateSpeech

Earlier this summer in his climate plan speech, President Obama spoke of new energy efficiency rules to cut down our emissions. He wanted to set efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings that, combined with the first term standards, will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030. This is equivalent to nearly one-half of the carbon pollution from the entire U.S. energy sector for one year, and will save families countless dollars on electric bills. 

President Obama is working toward achieving this lofty goal with proposed rules for refrigerators and walk-in coolers and freezers. The rules were initially proposed two years ago but were sitting in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). But now the Department of Energy is moving forward with the rules and has issued the proposal. After the 60-day public comment period, the rules can be finalized and our emissions can begin to be cut.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who sent a letter along with his colleagues to OMB in early June questioning the delay in issuing the rules, praised the agency’s director Sylvia Matthews Burwell and its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator Howard Shelanski for “dislodging rules like these two, that have been stuck at OMB for far too long. With Congress still paralyzed by the influence of the big carbon polluters, these are exactly the kind of actions the administration should take to fight back against climate change.”

In a blog post published Thursday afternoon, Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the President for energy and climate change, described energy efficiency as “one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” “This reduction in carbon emissions would be the equivalent of taking nearly 109 million new cars of the road for one year,” she added. “Or put another way, the energy saved from these proposed rules would be equal to the amount of electricity used by 50 million homes in a year.”

Energy efficiency not only creates jobs, but saves money, and cuts down on harmful pollution. Saving energy is our cheapest and easiest option to keep electricity rates low and the Sierra Club applauds these rules. This is a great start to moving our planet forward.

These rules are a step in the right direction for our climate,  but there’s still so much to do. These plans give us at the Sierra Club great hope that the President will finally address some of the remaining, worst causes of climate disaster, including abuses of the fossil fuel industry like fracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, destructive oil drilling in the Arctic, and the destruction of our precious, public lands.

--John Coequyt, Federal Campaign Deputy Director, Sierra Club

 

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