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The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) late yesterday filed a motion to intervene as a defendant in two identical federal lawsuits brought in the Northern District of California. One suit was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club; the other by eleven states' attorneys general and one city attorney. The lawsuits seek to mandate that DOE finalize several energy efficiency regulations – including energy efficiency standards for commercial package boilers – that were released as draft final rules at the end of the Obama Administration. With the change in administration and imposition of a regulatory freeze during a 45-day required public review period mandated by DOE's Error Correction Rule, several of the draft rules have not yet been published in the Federal Register.
"AHRI's interest in this lawsuit lies in the defined breadth and scope of the Error Correction Rule, which was the result of our settlement with DOE in prior litigation," said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. "Because this lawsuit will likely result in a determination of DOE's ability to modify or withdraw pre-published rules, our industry requires a seat at the table if and when discussions take place."
The Error Correction Rule was published in 2016 as the result of a settlement of AHRI's suit against DOE pertaining to walk-in cooler and freezer standards. AHRI and its industry partners have advocated for a broader interpretation of what constitutes an "error" warranting reconsideration of the substance of a pre-published rule. In the suits, however, the plaintiffs argue that under the Error Correction Rule pre-published rules can only be changed to correct typographical errors or mathematical mistakes and must be published at the close of the 45-day review period.
"Our motion will ensure we are a participant in all relevant discussions and that we retain the ability to advocate for greater flexibility and improved stakeholder engagement in DOE's rulemaking process," said Yurek.