President Barack Obama ordered the Department of Energy to set new
energy-efficiency standards for a broad range of household appliances, with the
aim of lowering Americans' energy costs and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Mr. Obama signed
Thursday a memorandum that calls for new standards for more than two dozen
appliances, including refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers. Over 30 years,
the standards are estimated to lead to an estimated $500 billion in energy-bill
savings, an administration official said.
"This will save
consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous
amounts of energy," Mr. Obama said in a speech at the DOE. He said that
over the next three decades, the new standards would allow the country to save
an amount of energy equivalent to that produced by all the coal-fired power
plants in the country over two years.
Andrew deLaski, head
of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, an environmental, energy and
consumer coalition, welcomed the move as a "dramatic change in tone."
He said new standards due out June 30 for florescent light bulbs used in
offices across the country "would be potentially the biggest energy-saving
measure the department has ever issued."
appliances would also be able to do more using less energy, resulting in power
plants producing less greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to global
The memo is designed
to address a series of deadlines that originated with the Energy Policy and
Conservation Act of 1975 and other more recent legislation, but that have been
missed due to previous administrations' failure to act.
The memo asks DOE to
finalize five rules by August to cover products including ovens, lamps, vending
machines and air-conditioning units. Mr. Obama asked the agency to give higher
priority to standards that promise the biggest savings, and to complete them
ahead of schedule.
has taken other steps to address energy matters since Mr. Obama took office two
weeks ago. In late January, Mr. Obama ordered the Environmental Protection
Agency to consider allowing states such as California to regulate automobile
emissions of greenhouse gases. On Wednesday, the Interior Department shelved a
controversial plan to lease wilderness areas of Utah for oil and gas drilling.
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