Democracy Forward, Representing NRDC, Sues Department of Energy Over Unlawful Stay of Test Procedure Rule

September 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.— On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Democracy Forward filed suit today against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for rolling back parts of a widely supported energy efficiency rule that halted the sale of replacement air conditioners that were skirting stricter energy-saving requirements.

“Unlawfully dismantling regulations at the behest of corporations has become a staple of the Trump Administration,” said Democracy Forward Legal Director Javier Guzman. “In attempting to undermine energy efficiency standards, the Administration’s actions will benefit Johnson Controls at the expense of consumers and manufacturers who are complying with these environmental protections.”

The Trump administration’s DOE recently issued a stay of two provisions of a January 2017 rule titled “Test Procedures for Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps,” which had made critical updates designed to modernize efficiency test procedures. The Trump administration rolled back sections of the rule that closed a loophole allowing certain replacement air conditioners to avoid meeting stricter energy efficiency regulations.

The loophole was being exploited by one manufacturer, Johnson Controls International (JCI), to sell replacement units without having to meet stricter efficiency requirements. DOE’s stay reopened that loophole to JCI and other manufacturers, which would result in higher utility bills for consumers and increased pollution from power plants.

The loophole closure had been supported by NRDC, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, as well as the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, an industry trade group whose members produce more than 90 percent of air conditioners and heat pumps sold domestically.

The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks to reinstate the full Test Procedures Rule and close the loophole. This is the 25th lawsuit NRDC has filed against the Trump administration.

A blog about the case will be filed at by midday Friday.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

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