51 Senators to Bush Administration: Be Cool!

March 19, 2004
10:01 AM
On Wednesday, the air conditioning industry dropped its efforts to overturn a Clinton-era requirement that home air conditioners be 30 percent more energy efficient starting in 2006. The Bush Administration in 2002 reduced this rule to a less efficient standard, and was sued. A federal court in January negated that rollback and affirmed the stronger standard. The Administration can appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, a bipartisan group of 51 senators urged the Bush Administration to follow industry’s lead and not challenge the court’s decision. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the Energy Committee’s ranking member, co-signed the letter to President Bush. Bingaman said "Implementing the stronger standard will help America meet three objectives of good energy policy: it will save natural gas, it will strengthen the reliability of our electricity grid by reducing peak demand and it will help ratepayers save on their utility bills. It’s a win for energy security, a win for consumers and a win for the environment." Energy bill trackers will recall that the “SEER 13” energy efficiency provision was in the original Daschle-Bingaman energy bill. Here is the letter: The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500The Honorable George W. Bush Mr. President: A recent federal court decision regarding energy efficient air conditioners is a significant victory for consumers, for the environment, and for our nation's energy future. We respectfully request that you do not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District (Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Abraham, Docket 01-4102) affirmed that central air conditioners sold beginning in 2006 must be at least 30 percent more energy efficient than those available today. Air conditioners are a necessary modern convenience but are also major users of electricity. On hot days, cooling homes and businesses is the largest category of electricity demand. Requiring air conditioners to be as energy efficient as possible will begin to reduce the stress on the electricity generation and transmission network and decrease the likelihood of blackouts that many regions of the country experience during warm weather conditions. Air conditioners that meet the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard will provide benefits for consumers, the environment, and the nation. The SEER 13 standard will alleviate the need for additional electricity production and transmission resulting in as many as 48 fewer power plants required by 2020. This standard will also result in less harmful air pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. Moreover, by 2020 power plant emissions of carbon dioxide will be 2.5 million tons lower as a result, and emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides will also be held down resulting in cleaner air and healthier citizens. Finally, the higher standard can be expected to save business and residential consumers $1 billion per year in lower electricity bills. Lower electricity bills will recover the slightly higher purchase cost for the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months. As the Congress continues to debate the future of our nation's energy policy, this court decision is one that should be embraced and encouraged, not appealed. Respectfully, [Akaka … Alexander … Baucus … Biden … Bingaman … Boxer … Byrd … Cantwell … Carper … Chafee … Clinton … Collins … Conrad … Corzine … Daschle … Dayton … Dodd … Dole … Dorgan … Durbin … Edwards … Feingold … Feinstein … Fitzgerald … Graham … Gregg … Hollings … Inouye … Jeffords … Johnson … Kennedy … Kerry … Kohl … Lautenberg … Leahy … Levin … Lieberman … Mikulski … Murray … Nelson (FL) … Nelson (NE) … Reed … Rockefeller … Sarbanes … Schumer … Smith … Snowe … Specter … Stabenow … Sununu … Wyden]

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