The man who declared in his inaugural address that his every action “will be made to benefit American workers and American families” wants to dump energy-related programs and regulations that save those same families billions of dollars, Greentech Media charges in an accounting of what’s on the block.
Since Donald Trump took possession of the Oval Office, his administration “has attempted to systematically dismantle nearly every energy program with direct benefits to American consumers, from efficiency standards to weatherization programs for low-income families,” Greentech writes.
One target for elimination is the Energy Star certification program for appliances, materials, homes, and buildings. The well-known label has “saved a whopping US$430 billion on consumer utility bills since its inception in 1992”—an average over that time of more than $17 billion a year. It costs about $50 million to administer. (Canada’s federal government has led a campaign to save the program, whose guidelines also help shoppers in this country.)
Also for the axe, a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that distributes $3.4 billion annually to help six million U.S. households in “all 50 states, D.C., 150 tribal organizations, and five U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico,” pay their energy bills. Without it, a 2014 study predicted that 17% fewer American households would be energy secure.
The administration also plans to scrub a home weatherization program that produces economic benefits of $1.2 billion a year—supporting 8,500 jobs—on a budget of $215 million.
In addition to withdrawing those existing programs, the White House has refused to enact several regulations completed late in the Obama administration that would save America’s consumers billions more.
The highest profile of those: new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, the American regulations that require automakers to achieve a certain fuel efficiency level in their new vehicles, averaged across their entire production, after specified model years.
Rules announced just days before Trump’s inauguration would have required new cars and light trucks to get 36 miles (58 kilometres) per gallon next year. Manufacturers would spend $34 to $38 billion on the necessary innovations—and pass those costs on to consumers. But buyers would get the extra money back within three years, the Consumers Union estimated, and collectively save between $326 and $451 billion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles.
Similarly, efficiency standards for energy-consuming appliances such as commercial air compressors, walk-in coolers and boilers, as well as portable air conditioners, were predicted to save U.S. business and consumers more than $8.6 billion in “net present value” terms. The standards would have “cost industry about $1 billion to implement.” But the administration has declined to publish them in the Federal Register—the final step in making them active.