Month 10, Day 12: Make It Better. Just A Little Bit Better.

Just got this in my inbox. That saved me some time looking for a theme for my letter tonight.

TAKE ACTION! How to Tap Abundant, Clean, and Cheap Energy: Strengthen Energy Efficiency Standards Now!

Energy efficiency is our cheapest, most abundant, and least tapped source of energy. Help make sure manufacturers actually follow the energy efficiency standards set by DOE: Submit your comment before 10/18!

Dear Warren,

“Energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit; it is fruit that is lying on the ground,” wrote Secretary of Energy Steven Chu shortly after taking office.

As leader of the Department of Energy, Sec. Chu has made energy efficiency—our cheapest, most abundant, and least tapped source of energy right now—a priority. Under Chu’s command, DOE has undertaken a massive project: to strengthen energy efficiency standards for dozens of household and commercial appliances.

But here’s the catch: Once those standards are set, we need to work hard to make sure manufacturers actually follow them. And we need your help.

DOE has found that raising the low bar of efficiency for these products will save consumers billions of dollars and save an enormous amount of energy, reducing our dependence on dirty and harmful fossil fuels.

Even just one stronger standard for one appliance can make a difference. Taken all together, a house—or nation—full of more efficient appliances means America is saving energy, saving money, and driving innovation in the marketplace.

Because strong standards are meaningless without effective enforcement, DOE is taking steps to put some real teeth into these. In the past, enforcement has been lax, meaning that manufacturers could routinely violate efficiency standards without fear of punishment. DOE is proposing new rules to make sure manufacturers’ efficiency claims are backed up by rigorous testing and to hold the bad actors, those manufacturers who aren’t meeting the bare minimum in efficiency standards, accountable.

DOE is on the right path. But in order for this rule to be effective in securing huge energy and cost savings for America, it needs to be stronger and some loopholes need to be closed.

Please write Sec. Chu now and tell him now is the time to get serious about picking up that fruit on the ground by holding manufacturers to the standards we are setting for them. Link.

— Earthjustice.

Earthjustice is a good group of people. I went to the DOE comment submission site and edited the boilerplate they provided, eventually sending the letter below to Secretary Chu:

Dear Secretary Chu,

While a significant number of Americans recognize the urgency of the climate crisis, the sad truth is that there are still a great many people in our country who remain in denial of what is certainly going to be the gravest threat humanity has yet faced. Consequently, truly robust legislation to tackle the major problems consequent to fossil fuel combustion is unlikely to pass our Senate in the near future.

We have two options. One is to abandon hope; the other is to solve the parts of the problem that can be solved, while working to build public awareness and consensus on the need for larger-scale action. Energy efficiency in appliances is one such area — huge amounts of energy are wasted every day by pieces of equipment that are poorly designed, poorly insulated or poorly maintained. We need to strengthen enforcement of federal energy efficiency standards in residential and commercial applications.

It is obvious that equipment that uses less energy to run represents a cost savings for the consumer; less self-evident is that reducing waste is a positive step in our treatment of our environment. With fossil fuel consumption already overburdening our atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions, there is no excuse for inefficiency and wastefulness.

If the manufacturing sector is merely giving lip service to efficiency standards, we are doomed to fail. The Department of energy must adopt a robust and aggressive system of enforcement that will ensure compliance with energy efficiency regulations. The American people need a guarantee that the Departmen will hold companies accountable for their failures.

I like the plan you’ve proposed. However, I would like to see it include some of the following:

Ongoing product testing, including regular follow-up assessment and verification, preferably conducted by independent labs. The stronger the testing, the more meaningful the results, and the greater the benefit to the consumer. The labs carrying out the testing must have proven integrity and must be insulated from any possibility of corruption.

The process of assessment must be made as transparent as possible. The public should be able to access test results easily and without expense; an informed citizenry is perhaps the best defense against corporate malfeasance. The Department’s proposal to make the information it receives regarding product compliance available to the public on an easily accessible website is an important and necessary initiative.

Thank you for your attention to my comments. I hope that your proposal is strengthened further and can be implemented without difficulty. It will be a significant step in our struggle to take meaningful action on climate change, and to educate our fellow citizens that tackling this problem can actually lead to improvements in our lives rather than deprivations.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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