Dear Mr. President, Please Don’t Extinguish my Energy Star

BY JUDITH A. ROSS

A few months ago, my husband and I decided to buy an older house in Portland, Oregon. We didn’t want a house that was already “done,” because we wanted to make renovations that met our own needs and taste.

Making the place more energy efficient is high on our list, and at the top of that list is replacing old, inefficient home appliances with new ones bearing the Energy Star seal of approval.

We’d been in the house one week and a day when I saw this headline in the Washington Post,

“The Energy Star program is good for the climate and the economy. Trump wants to kill it anyway.”

Wait, what? Even businesses like this program — it gives their higher-end products a consumer-pleasing caché that comes with a big, fat, money-making selling point. Isn’t President Trump all about helping business? Didn’t he promise during his campaign to boost our economy to “make America great again”?

And, more to the point, the Energy Star label helps environmentally conscious consumers like myself cut our emissions, and reduce our energy bills.

According to the Post,

“A new White House proposal would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 24 percent and eliminate 38 of its programs. One of the programs on the kill list is the Energy Star program, an initiative that experts say is as much about saving money as it is about saving the climate. Should it be eliminated, they argue, both consumers and businesses could suffer.”

Why would anyone suggest transforming a win-win program into a lose-lose one? The stupidity of it all makes my head spin.

Facts don’t seem to matter to you, Mr. President, but here are a few pertaining to my government’s Energy Star program.

  • Established in 1992 by the EPA, Energy Star is a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • While computers and monitors were the first labeled products, EPA expanded the label to additional office equipment products and residential heating and cooling equipment. In 1996, EPA partnered with the US Department of Energy for particular product categories.
  • As noted by the Post, “…the program now sets an international standard for energy-efficient products, including heating and cooling systems, appliances, and electronics. Homes and other buildings may also receive Energy Star certification by meeting certain standards for energy efficiency.”
  • Energy Star told the Post that since its inception, “it has saved consumers an estimated $430 billion on utility bills and avoided 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The White House proposes turning this program over to a non-governmental entity, perhaps one run by industry. Energy experts told E&E News that doing so would result in a less trusted, less competent Energy Star. According to Lowell Ungar, senior policy adviser at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE),

“An internal industry label is not going to be as effective, is not going to be as reliable. The consumers aren’t going to know whether that really is representing energy savings and savings in their wallet.”

And, with more than 16,000 partners, who also like the program, perhaps consumers will have some industry help in protesting this latest affront to environmental health. Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy told the Post,

“My hope is that the 16,000 partners really step up and stand firm and say it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish, to put it as politely as possible, to take money from this program or to try to suspend it when it’s clearly something that is doing so much good across so many fronts. I can’t imagine honestly that the manufacturers won’t fight very, very hard to keep this program in place.”

And I have no doubt that consumers will be right there with them.

TELL CONGRESS: PROTECT EPA