Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC (March 19, 2004) – Citing the nation’s growing energy demands and the need to reduce harmful air pollutants, 51 senators, including Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today urged the White House to stand by a recent court decision that would require future air conditioners to be more energy efficient. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District overturned an attempt by the Bush administration to roll back a rule developed by the Clinton administration which would require that air conditioners sold in 2006 be at least 30 percent more energy efficient than those available today. On Wednesday, the air conditioning industry’s major lobbying group, the Air Conditioner and Refrigeration Institute, decided to drop its three-year lawsuit seeking to overturn the standards. In a letter to President Bush, the senators urged the White House to follow suit and not exercise its right to challenge the January 2004 court decision, which the senators said represents a “significant victory for consumers, for the environment and for our energy’s future.” In addition, the letter states that “this court decision is one that should be embraced and encouraged, not appealed.” Air conditioners that meet the new Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard would produce several environmental and economic benefits, including: Alleviating the need for additional electricity production and transmission. The new standards would mean that 48 fewer power plants would have to be built by 2020. Reducing harmful air pollution. The new standards would mean that 2.5 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide will be released by 2020. In addition, the standards would also help hold down emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, thanks to a decreased demand for electricity production. Lower electricity bills for consumers and businesses alike. More energy-efficient air conditioners would save almost $1 billion annually in electricity costs. The savings would also recover the slightly higher purchasing cost of the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months. The full text of the letter is attached. The Honorable George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500 Mr. President: A recent federal court decision regarding energy efficient air conditioners is a significant victory for consumers, for the environment, and for our nation's energy future. We respectfully request that you do not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District (Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Abraham, Docket 01-4102) affirmed that central air conditioners sold beginning in 2006 must be at least 30 percent more energy efficient than those available today. Air conditioners are a necessary modern convenience but are also major users of electricity. On hot days, cooling homes and businesses is the largest category of electricity demand. Requiring air conditioners to be as energy efficient as possible will begin to reduce the stress on the electricity generation and transmission network and decrease the likelihood of blackouts that many regions of the country experience during warm weather conditions. Air conditioners that meet the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard will provide benefits for consumers, the environment, and the nation. The SEER 13 standard will alleviate the need for additional electricity production and transmission resulting in as many as 48 fewer power plants required by 2020. This standard will also result in less harmful air pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. Moreover, by 2020 power plant emissions of carbon dioxide will be 2.5 million tons lower as a result, and emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides will also be held down resulting in cleaner air and healthier citizens. Finally, the higher standard can be expected to save business and residential consumers $1 billion per year in lower electricity bills. Lower electricity bills will recover the slightly higher purchase cost for the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months. As the Congress continues to debate the future of our nation's energy policy, this court decision is one that should be embraced and encouraged, not appealed. Respectfully, Daniel K. Akaka Lamar Alexander Max Baucus Joseph Biden Jr. Jeff Bingaman Barbara Boxer Robert C. Byrd Maria Cantwell Thomas R. Carper Lincoln D. Chafee Hillary Rodham Clinton Susan M. Collins Kent Conrad Jon S. Corzine Tom Daschle Mark Dayton Christopher J. Dodd Elizabeth Dole Byron L. Dorgan Richard J. Durbin John Edwards Russell D. Feingold Dianne Feinstein Peter G. Fitzgerald Bob Graham Judd Gregg Ernest F. Hollings Daniel K. Inouye James M. Jeffords Tim Johnson Edward M. Kennedy John F. Kerry Herb Kohl Frank Lautenberg Patrick J. Leahy Carl Levin Joseph I. Lieberman Barbara A. Mikulski Patty Murray Bill Nelson E. Benjamin Nelson Jack Reed John D. Rockefeller IV Paul S. Sarbanes Charles E. Schumer Gordon Smith Olympia J. Snowe Arlen Specter Debbie Stabenow John E. Sununu Ron Wyden