March/April 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 2
by Alex Boesenberg, Director of Regulatory Affairs, NEMA
Federally, the Trump Administration’s anti-regulatory stance meant few regulatory initiatives moved forward except those required by law, and many of those initiatives advanced slowly through 2020.
After some delays, the US Department of Energy (DOE) made a strong effort from mid-to-late 2020 to clear out its backlog of appliance Standards and test procedures under mandatory six- and seven- year review cycles. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 obliges the DOE to review existing requirements to see if they can be updated or improved. Many NEMA products were part of this review, and because most of the technologies in question were mature, few changes were made.
These reviews were a good test of the February 2020 final rule that updated the Process Rule and established a more transparent and fair review process for developing energy conservation Standards. One of the rule provisions was that the DOE conducts a quick review of a previous rulemaking’s findings and conclusions to investigate whether conditions may have changed sufficiently to warrant a more in-depth re-examination of Standards levels.
For the NEMA products in question, most of the time, the conclusion was that changes to scope or stringency were not technologically or financially feasible. This “path to no” is an important addition to the DOE appliance efficiency rulemaking process, and it was encouraging to see it put to effective use. Previous rulemaking reviews seemed to be conducted under “always yes” and the bulk of analytical effort was spent justifying this foregone conclusion.
As for 2021 regulations, it is no secret the Biden Administration is a strong supporter of climate change advocacy, so energy-efficiency regulations and incentive programs will feature in these efforts. We hope that the Process Improvement Rule will prevent arbitrary and capricious action by the new Secretary of Energy and DOE staff, and time will tell how this hope will be borne out.
Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan, who has a strong track record of support for both energy efficiency and domestic manufacturing is the new Energy Secretary. One may expect her to be more attuned to the challenges of manufacturing than some of her Democrat- appointed predecessors.
As 2021 unfolds and new policies emerge and carry through to action, NEMA will be intimately involved in advocating and defending the interests of NEMA Member manufacturing and products. Outreach is already being conducted to anticipated/intended appointees and their support staff to forge inroads and begin discussions. ei