Updated standards for walk-in coolers and commercial broilers should have taken effect last December.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 14, 2017
oven close up kitchen appliance
Credit: brazzo / Getty Images

One of the more successful ways the Trump administration has been able to implement its agenda since January is through decreased regulations on businesses. In the food world, the White House has already shown its willingness to avoid new policies on things like requiring displays of calorie counts at chain restaurants or updates to the Nutrition Facts on packaged goods simply by pushing back the compliance deadlines. Meanwhile, to avoid implementing new efficiency standards for some common restaurant appliances like walk-in coolers, the Department of Energy is accused of taking a different route: Simply never putting the rules into writing – an omission that attorneys general from eleven different states claim is illegal.

Yesterday, eleven states and the city of New York filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Energy claiming that the Rick Perry and company are violating the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Federal Register Act by failing to roll out new efficiency standards for five categories of appliances and industrial equipment: portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, and commercial packaged boilers. The plaintiffs accuse the department of avoiding these new policies in the most absurdly simple way possible: by never actually publishing them in the Federal Register. Though the new rules were approved by the then-Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in December 2016 while President Obama was still in office, these federal regulations include a 45-day “error correction process” to check for “typographical,” “calculation,” or “numbering” errors. Since that 45-day period dragged into the start of Trump’s presidency, the new administration was responsible for actually publishing the final rules, which it did not.

California Attorney General Xev Becerra said in a statement that “the Department of Energy is blocking common-sense energy efficiency standards. This is absurd. The Trump Administration should stop stalling and start following the law.” Becerra’s state is named as a plaintiff, along with New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and the city of New York.

For its part, the Department of Energy told Courthouse News the agency “does not comment on pending litigation.” Apparently, that’s just one of many things they don’t feel like doing.