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article imageTrump plan to do away with Energy Star sparks industry uproar

By Karen Graham     Feb 22, 2018 in Politics
President Donald Trump is facing strong opposition in his drive to eliminate federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) popular Energy Star program.
When the White House released its 2019 budget last week, the EPA-DOE joint program, Energy Star was on the chopping block. Trump asked lawmakers to eliminate the $42 million in federal funding for the program, however, the administration will accept an alternative.
Trump wants to allow the EPA to fund the energy efficiency certification through fees charged to the companies that use it, an idea that has been pushed by conservatives for a number of years, according to The Hill. The White House and supporters of the proposed plan point out it would shift the costs to the companies that benefit from it.
“By administering the Energy Star program through the collection of user fees, EPA would continue to provide a trusted resource for consumers and businesses who want to purchase products that save them money and help protect the environment,” the agency told lawmakers in its budget request.
Judge orders Trump administration to put energy efficiency standards into effect.
Judge orders Trump administration to put energy efficiency standards into effect.
Valter Campanato/ABr
Opposition to proposed plan
Many groups, including manufacturers, retailers, utilities, environmentalists and others who benefit from the Energy Star program argue the estimated $30 billion in energy savings that users of Energy Star products achieve each year shows it is a highly successful program.
“Placing the burden solely on the manufacturers that use the label isn’t really fair,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, which counts among its members' appliance makers, utilities, and others interested in energy efficiency.
Lowell Ungar, a senior policy adviser at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said, “We’re glad that they’re not proposing to eliminate the program. That’s certainly a step forward." Ungar cited Trump’s previous budget request, which sought to abolish Energy Star altogether.
2015 advertisement promoting Energy Star-certified clothes dryers.
2015 advertisement promoting Energy Star-certified clothes dryers.
USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency
Energy Star receives broad bipartisan support
Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.), the top Democrat on the Senate's EPA funding panel, said he is "skeptical at best" about Trump's idea. "The Pruitt EPA appears determined to undermine the EPA in every way possible, so it's not surprising that they even took aim at the popular, bipartisan and consumer-friendly Energy Star program," he said.
Supporters of the program also worry that switching reliance and quality compliance from a government-backed program to an industry-backed one would undermine the public's confidence.
“One of the main strengths of the Energy Star program has been independence and the integrity that the government brings,” said Noah Horowitz, director for energy efficiency standards at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Nick Loris, an economist at the Heritage Foundation has a slightly different take on the proposed plan for Energy Star, saying the proposal is a step in the right direction to getting the government out of overseeing the program.
“I would still question why it needs to be overseen by the federal government in an era when we have more access to information than ever for when companies want to promote their energy efficient appliances.”
However, Loris conceded the $42 million price tag for Energy Star is not the main driving force behind the administration's desire to get rid of it. Loris said it's simply a matter of the government having no place for advocacy of energy efficiency.
More about Energy star, 2019 budget, industry quality, Politics, user fees
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