The Obama administration has issued high-profile standards for automobile efficiency, commercial lighting, and power plants over the years. But a new analysis also shows that the White House is letting crucial standards for appliances and commercial equipment sit idle.
According to a review from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the White House has delayed finalizing eight efficiency standards on microwaves, electric motors, external power supplies, and commercial refrigerators that that could cumulatively save consumers billions of dollars. The organization finds that the delays have already cost American consumers $3.7 billion in saved energy costs -- or about $300 million per month.
Here's ACEEE's breakdown in the cost of delay for each rule:
Some standards are more than a year overdue. In the case of microwaves, external power supplies, and reflector lamps, the White House has allowed the rules to sit unfinished for nearly two years.
"Over the past two years, the administration has missed deadline after deadline for completing new or updated standards. These delays impose a steep cost," wrote Andrew DeLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project at ACEEE, in a blog post.
Most of the hold-up is in an office within an office -- the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) -- the body responsible for reviewing all the new rules proposed by agencies. The Department of Energy has sent over numerous proposals for appliance and equipment efficiency standards since 2011, but OIRA's "glacial pace" conducting a cost-benefit analysis has caused the Department of Energy to miss its deadlines by a year or more.
"The glacial pace of review at OIRA has had a cascading effect on other important efficiency standards. With at least five new standards already stuck at OMB, DOE is now falling behind on other important standards," explained ACEEE's DeLaski.
This is not the first time the Obama administration has come under fire for delaying environmental rules. Last year, the White House abruptly killed a new smog rule for power plants, angering public health groups and reportedly irking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The administration also made major changes to a pollution rule for industrial boilers and cement plants last year, making environmentalists very upset. Groups monitoring the rulemaking process often blame OIRA for the long delays or for watering down pollution regulations.
In 2012, there were 39 rules being reviewed at OIRA that had been at the office for more than the 120-day deadline.