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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
September 7, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Law
- Nancy Kaplen,
Acting Director


Peter Aseltine


Attorney General Harvey Sues U.S. Department of Energy Over Failure to Set Stronger Energy Standards for Appliances

>> Read Complaint (2.6 M pdf) free plug in

TRENTON – Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today joined with Attorneys General from 13 other states, the Pennsylvania Environmental Secretary and the City of New York to file suit against the federal Department of Energy for violating congressional mandates to adopt, by clearly specified deadlines, stronger energy-saving standards for 22 common appliances that use large amounts of electricity, natural gas and oil.

The standards sought by the lawsuit, according to the federal government’s own numbers, would generate substantial savings for consumers and reduce air pollution and global warming emissions from power plants.

"By improving the efficiency standards for these common appliances, we can reduce the air pollution coming into New Jersey from out-of-state power plants and lower utility bills for our consumers," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "We are taking legal action to protect our environment and the health of all New Jersey families."

"We need stronger efficiency standards for appliances that will reduce electricity demand, reduce the drain on our energy resources and reduce pollution," said New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "By ignoring a congressional mandate to adopt such standards, the Department of Energy has left us more vulnerable in the current energy crunch. We are taking legal action to ensure that there is no more foot-dragging on this important issue."

Congress directed the Department of Energy to strengthen efficiency standards for a wide range of household and commercial products, including furnaces, water heaters, clothes washers, dryers, air conditioners, dishwashers, heat pumps, ranges, ovens, motors and lamps. Congress established initial efficiency standards for most of the products, and directed the Department of Energy to periodically review and strengthen them. For the remaining products, the Department of Energy is to establish initial efficiency standards and also periodically strengthen them.

The Department of Energy is six to thirteen years behind schedule and has not adopted any appliance efficiency standards since January 2001.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. New Jersey filed suit with New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and New York City.

The states’ complaint, including an attached chart of violations by the Department of Energy, is available online linked to this press release at

Appliance efficiency standards capitalize on improved technology and require that the covered appliances use less electricity, gas or oil while providing the same or improved levels of service and reliability. In the past, both the federal government and industry have agreed that national efficiency standards are one of the fairest and most cost-effective ways to reduce the use of energy.

Based on estimates by the Department of Energy, stronger standards could result in average annual energy savings equal to the total annual energy needs of between 3 million and 12 million American households, depending on how fast the new standards are phased in and what new standards are set. The annual electricity savings alone would roughly equal the output of 13 to 42 large power plants.

The states wrote to the Department of Energy on July 1, 2005, requesting that it comply with the law and commit to a binding schedule for the establishment of stronger efficiency standards. They alerted the agency that without such a schedule, the states would commence federal litigation. To date, the Department of Energy has not responded to the letter.

>> Read Complaint (2.6 M pdf) free plug in

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