House of Representatives supports bills to roll back energy efficiency standards for refrigerators and dishwashers

By MATTHEW DALY – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans approved two bills Tuesday that would roll back Department of Energy efficiency standards for refrigerators and dishwashers.

Republicans called the Biden administration’s rules expensive and impractical, while Democrats defended them as a way for consumers to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

A bill from Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa would restrict Department of Energy regulations on refrigerators. Another proposal from Republican Rep. Nick Langworthy of New York would prohibit the government from implementing or enforcing new efficiency regulations unless they are “cost-effective or technologically feasible” and result in significant energy savings.

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The refrigerator bill passed by a vote of 212 to 192, while the dishwasher measure passed by a vote of 214 to 192. Both bills now head to the Democratic-dominated Senate, where they are unlikely to make any progress.

The White House said it strongly opposed both measures, but did not threaten to veto them if the bills land on Biden’s desk.

The bills contained “vague” and misleading language that “would add additional uncertainty to the implementation of these (efficiency) standards and impose unnecessary hurdles on the Department of Energy in future updates,” a White House statement said.

Langworthy said his bill, the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards (SUDS Act), would “put the brakes on the Biden administration’s relentless assault on efficient, affordable and reliable home appliances for the average American through excessive regulations.”

The Energy Department and other agencies have “abused and twisted” a 1970s energy conservation law to “serve the radical, woke environmental agenda of the far left,” Langworthy said during debate in the House. “Why should Americans who pay for their groceries with credit cards be forced to deal with even more unrealistic and expensive regulations?”

Miller-Meeks used similar language, saying the Biden administration has implemented “outrageous regulations that only serve to limit consumer choice, raise energy prices, and control everything Americans can do on a daily basis.”

Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Republicans were wrong. Instead of reducing costs, the proposals would increase energy bills for American families, he said.

Energy efficiency standards “save Americans money on their energy bills, encourage innovation by upgrading future-proof appliances, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of our ongoing efforts to combat the climate crisis,” Pallone said.

Current and planned energy efficiency measures by the Biden administration will save Americans $1 trillion over the next 30 years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.5 billion tons, Pallone said.

Pallone, who has served in Congress for 36 years, said energy efficiency “used to be a bipartisan issue, but that’s no longer the case. Extreme Republicans have decided they’d rather accede to the demands of polluting corporations while continuing to push their ‘polluters over people’ agenda.”

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, who chairs the Energy Committee, said modern household appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators are “not the result of aggressive government mandates or regulations, but of American ingenuity.”

“Sadly,” she added, “the Biden administration’s war on American energy is now reaching Americans’ homes,” leading to what she called “out-of-control appliance regulations.”

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California said many Republicans who support appliance reduction measures don’t even know how dishwashers work or how much they cost.

“I know a lot about dishwashers because I’m a single mom and I have to load and unload the washing machine, load and unload it, rinse it and buy dishwashing detergent,” Porter said.

She asked if her Republican colleagues knew how much it costs to run the average dishwasher each month. When no one responded, Porter answered her question herself, saying the typical cost is about $2 to $4 a month. “In other words, about a third of a Frappuccino,” she said.

Contrary to Republican claims that dishwashers often malfunction due to complicated federal regulations, the most important factor for clean dishes is “proper loading,” Porter said.

“This bill is ridiculous,” she added. “This is Congress at its worst. A bunch of people who have never unpacked a dishwasher telling the American people which dishwashers they can and cannot buy.”

Seven Democrats supported both bills. Representative John Moolenaar of Michigan was the only Republican to oppose the refrigerator bill. No Republicans voted against the dishwasher bill.

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