The natural gas industry recently challenged the Biden administration over its regulations against traditional gas-powered residential furnaces. An industry group expects the rules to impact over half of all households in the U.S., where families and businesses could face increased costs to adhere to the regulation.
The American Gas Association (AGA), which provides natural gas to over 74 million customers across the country, filed a legal challenge to the Biden regulation alongside several other trade organizations. The groups are challenging the Biden Department of Energy (DOE), claiming the rule will effectively bar the sale of many low-cost furnaces consumers actively use.
AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert recently released a statement explaining her organization’s attempts to work with the DOE. However, these efforts were to no avail, forcing the AGA to take legal action to protect the interests of consumers.
“AGA has attempted to work with the Department of Energy to address the rule’s profound impacts on consumers and homeowners with a solutions-oriented approach to energy conservation that protects consumers and ensures continued availability of low-cost, low-emission natural gas furnaces,” Harbert stated. “Unfortunately, our 114 pages of comments have been summarily ignored.”
Harbert further expounded on the implications of the Biden regulation, where consumers could be forced to make costly changes to their existing home furnaces. According to the AGA CEO, financially vulnerable families might be forced to make expensive renovations for new appliances that meet the DOE rule as their former furnaces would be off the market.
“This ruling from DOE will push American families with natural gas heat into a corner — when their furnace goes out, they’ll be forced to choose between retrofitting for electric with the increased month-to-month utility bills that entails or engaging in a costly and time-consuming renovation to retrofit their home for a completely different type of natural gas furnace,” she continued.
Harbert also noted that the regulations would be a massive financial burden to American families already reeling with the effects of historically high inflation throughout the Biden administration. The AGA CEO also claimed the DOE rules would have little environmental benefit.
The DOE regulations are set to be implemented in 2028, requiring furnaces to achieve an annual fuel utilization rate of 95 percent. This would force manufacturers to conform their products to this utilization rate, which the current market standard is 80 percent, within the next six years.
The AGA predicts this strict regulation could remove over 60 percent of current residential furnaces from the market. The organization claims this will impact approximately 55 percent of total households in America, creating higher costs for Americans across board.
DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm defended the stringent regulations, claiming they would lead consumers to adopt more cost and energy-efficient furnaces that would purportedly provide environmental benefits. “At the direction of Congress, DOE is continuing to review and finalize energy standards for household appliances, such as residential furnaces, to lower costs for working families by reducing energy use and slashing harmful pollutants in homes across the nation,” she said after the department finalized the regulations earlier this year.
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