Biden admin launched an aggressive campaign targeting home appliances with eco regulations in 2023

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The Biden administration issued numerous energy efficiency regulations in 2023 that it said would lead to reduced carbon emissions and lower prices, but which experts say would lead to higher costs and restrict consumer choice.

The regulations, which were largely crafted and finalized by the Department of Energy (DOE), mainly targeted popular home appliances including stove tops, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, refrigerators and ceiling fans. Overall, DOE said its finalized and proposed regulations will curb emissions by 2.4 billion metric tons cumulatively over 30 years, supporting President Biden’s “ambitious efforts to tackle the climate crisis.”

“At the direction of Congress, DOE is continuing to review and finalize energy standards for household appliances, such as residential furnaces, to lower costs for working families by reducing energy use and slashing harmful pollutants in homes across the nation,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in September. 

In addition to reducing the U.S. economy’s carbon footprint, DOE said its regulations will further save Americans an estimated $570 billion over three decades.

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said her agency’s regulations will “lower costs for working families by reducing energy use and slashing harmful pollutants in homes across the nation.” (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

DOE, meanwhile, has pointed to its authority under the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which established a federal program consisting of test procedures, labeling, and energy targets for consumer products. The 1987 National Appliance Energy Conservation Act then established minimum appliance efficiency standards and requires DOE to periodically update the standards.

Then, in the decades that followed, Congress passed additional legislation establishing new appliance standards and requiring DOE to regularly review and update all standards and test procedures.

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“Ostensibly, these DOE efficiency standards are supposed to benefit consumers. That’s the way the law is written,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “But they’re clearly being done as part of the climate agenda, especially this agenda to electrify everything.”

Experts, including Lieberman, have repeatedly warned over the last 12 months that the Biden administration’s energy efficiency actions will ultimately harm consumers and drive prices higher since manufacturers will be forced to adopt newer technologies to achieve the standards.

gas stove burner, left, President Biden at right

The Biden administration’s crackdown on gas stoves in February garnered significant pushback from Republicans, Democrats, consumer advocates and industry groups. (Getty Images)

In April, Lieberman led a comment letter alongside more than 15 other consumer organizations, arguing DOE’s efficiency standards for stovetops proposed in February “almost certainly compromise some of the features that gas stove users want, and all for the sake of saving an insignificant amount of energy.” According to the agency’s analysis, those standards would effectively ban half of all available stoves.

“The agency’s exaggerated claims of climate change benefits do not alter the fact that proposed rule violates the consumer protections in the statute,” the comment letter stated. “For these reasons, we believe the proposed rule should be withdrawn.”

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In the months after DOE released its proposed stovetop regulations, it proposed regulations in February for clothes washers and refrigerators that it said would reduce emissions by 233 million metric tons; finalized standards for air conditioners in March; proposed regulations cracking down on dishwashers in May; issued a proposal targeting water heaters in July; and proposed standards for furnaces in September.

In addition, in November, Biden invoked wartime powers, awarding $169 million to companies to accelerate electric heat pump manufacturing. 

Joe Manchin, senator from West Virginia

Sen. Joe Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Fox News Digital earlier this year that the administration’s war on appliances “absolutely makes no sense and is not in check with reality,” vowing to oppose it. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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And the Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized a rule to push an economy-wide transition to more advanced refrigeration and cooling technologies replacing “climate-damaging” hydrofluorocarbons. Energy experts warned that the EPA’s regulations targeting the chemical will ultimately drive prices higher for new air conditioners and refrigerators, and repairs while harming consumers.

“They are trying to reshape the place that you live to make it look like the home they would like you to live in,” O.H. Skinner, the Alliance For Consumers’ executive director, told Fox News Digital in October. “They’re really trying to impose what are progressive preferences from places in coastal enclaves and make it so that everyone has to live like that. And that affects you every day.”

“What’s crucial is to understand this administration isn’t just tweaking regulations. They’re doing things that effectively ban whole categories of things that exist on the market,” Skinner continued. “Almost all of these decisions, as you work through it, are influenced by the overall climate agenda and the green agenda and the desire for us to change our lives.”

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Environmentalists have long argued in favor of appliance and energy efficiency regulations given their high use of electricity and natural gas. Green energy groups have called for the electrification of homes and businesses, reducing reliance on natural gas and simultaneously replacing current fossil fuel-fired power with alternatives like wind and solar.

According to federal data, the commercial and residential sector accounts for 30% of total end-use carbon emissions in the U.S., the largest share of any sector including industry, transportation and agriculture.

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