January 15, 2020
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) announced today that it had dismissed its federal preemption lawsuit against the California Energy Commission filed with the American Lighting Association on December 13, 2019. The announcement came after reviewing the decision of the federal district court in Sacramento denying the application for a temporary restraining order without prejudice to pursue a motion for a preliminary injunction.
"The basis of the NEMA preemption complaint is that there can only be one definition of general service lamps under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and that is the definition enacted by Congress in 2007, which has been maintained by the regulations of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)," explained NEMA General Counsel Clark Silcox. "The court's decision on the temporary restraining order implies, without deciding, that there might be two definitions: one for California only and one for the rest of the country. NEMA believes that this contradicts Congress's clear statement that federal energy conservation regulation is a comprehensive national policy."
According to Silcox, NEMA believes that DOE properly followed the Administrative Procedure Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in maintaining Congress' definition of general service lamps and withdrawing an expanded definition adopted in 2017. "The DOE made its decision before the expanded 2017 definitions ever became effective, following proper notice and comment rulemaking procedures," said Silcox. "DOE provided a sound explanation for why the expanded definitions were not consistent with Congress' intent as reflected in the statutory text, and why the agency had exceeded its legal authority in previously adopting a broader set of definitions."
Fifteen states and non-governmental organizations have challenged the DOE regulatory definition in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City, and that court expects a decision at the end of this year or early next year. NEMA believes that awaiting this decision is the best approach to resolving the dispute and to providing a clear direction to finalize energy efficiency policy for the nation.