Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Republicans take aim at federal home appliance rules



The House Rules Committee met on Monday to discuss several bills for consideration by the House floor. Hot topics at the hearing included Title IX, the ​​Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act, and several other proposed bills aimed at standards for household appliances.

The Republican-led home appliance bills that were discussed at the committee hearing included H.R. 7700, the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act, and H.R. 7637, the Refrigerator Freedom Act.

The Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act is aimed at preventing the Department of Energy from enforcing or updating new energy conservation standards for dishwashers, “unless the standards are determined by the department to be technologically feasible,” according to the Congressional Budget Office’s summary of the bill.

“The bill would prohibit DOE from issuing, updating, or enforcing energy conservation standards for the affected appliances unless the standards are determined by the department to be technologically feasible, economically justified, unlikely to increase net costs for consumers, and to provide significant energy savings,” CBO said. 

The Refrigerator Freedom Act, which was originally introduced in March, would prevent the Secretary of Energy from rolling out similarly restrictive rules for refrigerators.

Many House Republicans have expressed strong opinions on these energy conservation appliance rules in the past leading up to this hearing.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, sponsored the bill for The Refrigerator Freedom Act, which was introduced in March.

“The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency under the Biden Administration have done nothing but implement outrageous regulations that only serve to limit consumer choice, increase energy prices, and control everything Americans are able to do on a day-to-day basis,” Miller-Meeks said in a press release when it was introduced. “I’m proud that my bill passed the Energy and Commerce Committee, and I will continue to ensure American consumers have freedom to choose what type of appliances they want in their own home.”

Others have praised the energy standards, expressing concerns about environmental harm.

Overall, though, costs to the average American remain at the center of the debate.

“These appliance regulations almost always hurt consumers because they take away consumer choices,” Senior Fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute Ben Lieberman told The Center Square. “Keep in mind if you want to choose the ultra efficient dishwasher or air conditioner, that’s always an option for you, but what these standards do is they force that option on everyone whether it makes sense for you or not.

“These appliance regulations tend to raise the upfront costs of these appliances, so if it’s an appliance you plan on using sparingly, you may never earn back that higher upfront costs in the form of reduced energy savings over the life of the appliance,” Lieberman said.

There remains a questions about costs, since rules can make appliances more expensive but also save consumers money at times by designing them to use less water or electrcity.

“Energy efficiency standards make the household products we use every day better and more efficient, while saving consumers money,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of The Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said in a statement from May.

Several Republicans criticized the current appliance efficiency standards during the Rules Committee hearing.

“So under this rule and based on what anyone who uses appliances regularly would know, most Americans will never see the savings laid out in the proposed rule,” Rep. Nick Langworthy of New York said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Penn, slammed the Republican’s proposed household appliance bills during the hearing.

“I can’t believe that we’re here with refrigerator freedom and laundry liberty again, I mean, I thought we’d beaten this horse to death,” Scanlon said during the hearing. “It does seem after the Fourth of July that we can pledge allegiance to the fridge of the United States of America and to the dishwasher for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible except for gas stoves, with liberty and justice for all appliances.”