The man who led President Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told DWM last week that “if your industry and others that participate in Energy Star think it’s a good program, then I think you should pay for it and run it.” The popular voluntary energy-efficiency program has been targeted for elimination in Trump’s 2018 budget plan.

“Our view is that Energy Star is good insofar as it’s voluntary and not so good that taxpayer dollars are used to run it,” Myron Ebell of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute told DWM in an e-mail. “One of the reasons that the federal government is so disastrously in debt is that hundreds of special interests have been able to commandeer tax dollars for programs that benefit them. If your industry and others that participate in Energy Star think it’s a good program, then I think you should pay for it and run it. There are good examples in other industries of programs (that were started before everyone decided that Congress could be persuaded to pay for every good idea) that are self-funded and administered by the industries involved. The lumber grading standards are a good example and do for lumber what Energy Star does for energy efficiency. They were self-funded, and as far as I know, still are self-funded.”

The proposal to reduce the EPA’s budget for 2018 by 31 percent and get rid of Energy Star emerged after President Trump’s transition team for the EPA wrapped up its work in January. At that time, Ebell said his group had produced an action plan and an advisory document for the EPA going forward.

When asked by DWM if it was his idea to close out Energy Star, Ebell said that “transition work is confidential.” But he then added: “I can say that it is public knowledge that the agency transition teams were primarily charged with developing plans to implement the president’s campaign commitments. Defunding Energy Star was not a campaign commitment.”

The confidentiality of transition work could be an impediment to an environmental group that’s filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all documents related to the Trump administration’s plans for the Energy Star program.

Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity requested all communications from the EPA, Department of Energy and Office of Management and Budget since November 1, 2016 that mention, reference or include the Energy Star program.

“We hope public records reveal the real motive behind Trump’s bizarre proposal to gut the Energy Star program,” said Greer Ryan, sustainability research associate at the center. “Planning to eliminate a widely successful program that’s supported on both sides of the aisle is yet another shortsighted attack by this administration on any effort to address climate change.”

According to the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service, a presidential transition team is not an agency or a government entity, so any documents related to the work it does would not have to comply with a FOIA request. The law would only apply to transition documents that end up in the possession of a federal agency and qualify as an “agency record.” For FOIA purposes, an “agency record” is any document that has been created or obtained by an agency or which the agency is in control of at the time that the request is made, according to rulings from the Justice Department.

Energy Star’s budget is about $50 million a year. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, consumers who bought Energy Star products and participated in its  programs saved $34 billion in 2015, and a cumulative total of $430 billion through 2015.

Recently, a coalition of more than 1,000 companies, including several U.S. industrial giants and some major players in the fenestration industry, signed a letter urging Congress and the administration to preserve the Energy Star program.

More than 300 fenestration companies are listed as partners on the Energy Star website for the windows, doors and skylights program. Most of them heavily promote their participation in it. According to the EPA, Energy Star-rated windows represented about 80 percent of the U.S. market in 2010.

2 Comments

  1. Makes total sense to me. It works for NFRC, whose values are used to determine Energy Star compliance, and that works very well without government oversight and intervention.

  2. Ebell is absolutely right. Industries are better suited to run their own programs than government bureaucrats.

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