House backs bills to roll back energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, dishwashers

Jul 9, 2024, 2:26 PM | Updated: 5:18 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Tuesday have approved two bills rolling back Energy Department efficiency standards on refrigerators and dishwashers.

Republicans called the Biden administration rules expensive and impractical, while Democrats defended them as a way for consumers to save money and reduce greenhouse gas pollution that contributes to climate change.

A bill by Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa would curtail Energy Department rules on refrigerators. A separate measure by New York Republican Rep. Nick Langworthy would bar the administration from implementing or enforcing new efficiency rules if they are not “cost-effective or technologically feasible” and result in significant energy conservation.

The refrigerator bill was approved, 212-192, while the dishwasher measure was adopted, 214-192. Both bills now go to the Democratic-controlled Senate where they are unlikely to advance.

The White House said it strongly opposes both measures but stopped short of a veto threat if the bills reach Biden’s desk.

The bills include “vague” and misleading language that “would add uncertainty to the implementation of these (efficiency) standards and create unnecessary hurdles for DOE in making future updates,” the White House said in a statement.

Langworthy said his bill, the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards, or SUDS Act, would “put the brakes on the Biden administration’s relentless assault on efficient, affordable and reliable appliances for everyday Americans through overbearing regulations.”

The Energy Department and other agencies have “abused and twisted” a 1970s-era law aimed at energy conservation in order “to serve the radical, woke, environmental agenda of the far left,” Langworthy said during debate on the House floor. “Why should Americans who are putting their groceries on credit cards be forced to deal with more out-of-touch expensive regulations?”

Miller-Meeks used similar language, saying the Biden administration has implemented “outrageous regulations that only serve to limit consumer choice, increase energy prices and control everything Americans are able to do on a day-to-day basis.”

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Republicans had it wrong. Instead of lowering costs, the proposals would increase home energy bills for American families, he said.

Energy efficiency standards “save Americans money on their energy bills, boost innovation by modernizing appliances for the future and reduce greenhouse gas pollution in our ongoing efforts to combat the climate crisis,” Pallone said.

Current and planned actions by the Biden administration on energy efficiency will save Americans $1 trillion over the next 30 years and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.5 billion metric tons, Pallone said.

Pallone, who has served in Congress for 36 years, said energy efficiency “used to be a bipartisan issue, but not anymore. Extreme Republicans have decided that they’d rather do the bidding of corporate polluters as they continue to move forward with their polluters-over-people agenda.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the Republican chair of the energy panel, said modern appliances such as the home dishwasher and refrigerator “were not the result of aggressive government mandates or regulation, but of American ingenuity.”

“Sadly,” she added, “the Biden administration’s war on American energy is now reaching inside Americans’ homes” to what she called “out-of-control appliance mandates.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-California, said many Republicans who back the appliance measures don’t even know how dishwashers work or how much they cost.

“I know a lot about dishwashers, because I’m a single mom and I load and unload and load and unload and rinse and buy detergent,” Porter said.

She asked if Republican colleagues know how much it costs per month to run an average dishwasher. When no one replied, Porter answered her own question, saying typical costs are about $2 to $4 a month. “In other words, about one-third of a frappuccino,” she said.

Contrary to Republican claims that dishwashers often don’t work correctly because of complicated federal rules, the most important factor to ensure clean dishes “is loading it correctly,” Porter said.

“This bill is ridiculous,” she added. “It is Congress at its worst. A bunch of people who haven’t unloaded a dishwasher ever telling the American people … what kind of dishwashers they should or should not be able to buy.”

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House backs bills to roll back energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, dishwashers