Department of Energy: Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products--Energy Conservation Standards for Refrigerators, Refrigerator-Freezers and Freezers

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-09-08.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Office of the General Counsel


      September 8, 1997

      The Honorable Frank H. Murkowski
      The Honorable Dale Bumpers
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.
      The Honorable John D. Dingell
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Department of Energy: Energy Conservation Program for Consumer
                 Products: Energy Conservation Standards for Refrigerators, Refrigerator-
                 Freezers and Freezers

      Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on
      a major rule promulgated by the Department of Energy (DOE), entitled "Energy
      Conservation Program for Consumer Products: Energy Conservation Standards for
      Refrigerators, Refrigerator-Freezers and Freezers" (RIN: 1904-AA47). We received
      the rule on August 26, 1997. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule
      on April 28, 1997. 62 Fed. Reg. 23102.

      The final rule, which is effective on July 1, 2001, revises the energy conservation
      standards for refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers and is expected to
      result in reduced energy consumption, reduced consumer costs, and reduced
      emissions of air pollutants associated with electricity production.

      Enclosed is our assessment of DOE's compliance with the procedural steps required
      by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule. Our
      review indicates that DOE complied with the applicable requirements.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact James Vickers, Assistant
General Counsel, at (202) 512-8210. The official responsible for GAO evaluation
work relating to the Department of Energy is Victor Rezendes, Director for Energy,
Resources, and Science Issues. Mr. Rezendes can be reached at (202) 512-3841.

Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel


cc: Mr. Eric J. Fygi
    Acting General Counsel
    Department of Energy

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       ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
                                ISSUED BY
                     THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
                             (RIN 1904-AA47)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

The Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) describes the costs and benefits of the final
rule. In addition, the RIA discusses the costs and benefits of the various
alternatives which were considered and also the assumptions and methodology used
in computing the impact of the various regulatory scenarios.

The final rule is expected to increase the energy efficiency of full-sized refrigerators
by 22 to 30 percent and compact refrigerators by 10 percent. The cost of the more
efficient refrigerators is expected to average $80 more and save the consumer $20
per year in energy costs, thereby allowing recovery of the increased cost in 4 years.

Annual savings due to reduced electricity use are estimated at $1.1 billion in 2010,
$2.0 billion in 2020, and $2.1 billion in 2030. The reduction in emissions from the
production of electricity for the period 2001-2030 is 1.5 million short tons of NO x
and 513 million short tons of CO2.

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605,
607 and 609

In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, DOE certified that the rule would not have
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities and,
therefore, did not prepare an initial regulatory impact analysis. No comments were
received in regard to this certification.

DOE continues to believe that the final rule will not have such an impact.
However, if after the rule becomes effective and such an impact is shown, DOE will
exercise its authority under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to grant
appropriate relief to small entities.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

According to DOE, the final rule will impose a mandate on the private sector of
over $100 million annually and, therefore, the rule is subject to the requirements of
the act.

As required by section 205, DOE considered numerous regulatory alternatives which
were discussed in the Regulatory Impact Analysis. DOE must select the least
costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative that achieves the
objective of the rule. DOE states that the alternative it has selected, as required by
section 325(o) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, is designed to achieve
the maximum improvement in energy efficiency which DOE has determined to be
technologically feasible and economically justified.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

The final rule was promulgated using the notice and comment procedures in 5
U.S.C. § 553.

On September 8, 1993, DOE published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(58 Fed. Reg. 47326) which discussed the methodology and models DOE planned to
use to support the rulemaking. In response to the request for comments, DOE
received joint comments from refrigerator manufacturers, energy efficiency
advocates, electric utilities, and state energy offices which were meeting to develop
common recommendations.

On July 20, 1995, DOE published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (60
Fed. Reg. 37388) containing the amended energy conservation standards for
refrigerator products.

Following further discussions with the various stakeholders and the publication of a
rule institutionalizing procedural enhancements in developing appliance efficiency
standards (61 Fed. Reg. 36973, July 15, 1996), the comment period under the NPRM
was reopened. DOE has received over 200 comments and responds to the
significant issues raised in the preamble to the final rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

The final rule does not contain any information collections subject to review by the
Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

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Statutory authorization for the rule

The final rule was promulgated under the authority of Part B of Title III of the
Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended. 42 U.S.C. §§ 6291-6309.

Executive Order No. 12866

The final rule was determined to be an "economically significant regulatory action"
under Executive Order No. 12866 and was reviewed by the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB). A Regulatory Impact Analysis of the rule was prepared, as
required by the order. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB
approved the rule on April 15, 1997, as complying with the requirements of the
order based on the information supplied by DOE, which included the planned
regulatory action document describing the reason for the rule and an assessment of
the costs and budgetary impacts of the rule.

National Environmental Policy Act

DOE prepared a draft Environmental Assessment pursuant to the act and received
no comments on it when it was published at the time of the proposed rulemaking.
Under the assessment, the environmental effects of the final rule are not deemed to
be significant under the act, and DOE issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on
the date it published the final rule.

Executive Order No. 12630

DOE has reviewed the final rule pursuant to the order and found that the rule does
not result in any takings which might require compensation under the Fifth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Executive Order No. 12612

A federalism assessment was not prepared by DOE based on its conclusion that
there are no substantial direct effects on states, on the relationship between the
federal government and the states, or on the distribution of power among various
levels of government.

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