A lawsuit has been filed against the Biden administration by the American Gas Association (AGA), along with several trade associations and a manufacturer. The lawsuit challenges new regulations on gas-powered furnaces, arguing that they would outlaw many furnace models still in use by American consumers. The regulations, set to go into effect in 2028, will increase the required efficiency ratings of new furnaces from 80 to 95 percent. As a result, non-condensing gas furnaces, which are generally less efficient but cheaper, will no longer be available as consumer options.
Biden Admin’s Natural Gas Crackdown Runs Into Legal Challenge: ‘Increased Costs with Little Environmental Gain’ pic.twitter.com/Val4RH9jq8
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The AGA predicts that more than half of American households will eventually be affected by the regulations, leading to higher costs for 30% of senior households, 27% of small businesses, and 26% of low-income households. On the other hand, the Department of Energy (DOE) claims that the new rules, combined with previous regulations, will save Americans $570 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons over the next 30 years. However, if the DOE’s numbers prove true, the regulations will only impact 1.26 percent of U.S. emissions over the next 30 years, considering that the U.S. alone accounts for 6.34 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert argues that the new rules will saddle American families with increased costs and little environmental gain. She believes that American families with natural gas heat will be forced to choose between retrofitting for electric with increased utility bills or engaging in a costly and time-consuming renovation to retrofit their homes for a different type of natural gas furnace. In response, President Joe Biden’s energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, shifts the blame for the impacts of the regulations to Congress, stating that the DOE is merely following the direction of Congress in reducing energy use and pollutants in homes across the nation.
The AGA’s legal challenge to the DOE’s new energy conservation standard for consumer furnaces claims that the rule fails to meet statutory requirements and would effectively ban the sale of non-condensing natural gas furnaces. The rule affects 55 percent of U.S. households, with senior-only households, low-income households, and small business consumers facing higher costs as a result. The AGA has attempted to work with the DOE to address the rule’s impacts but claims that their efforts have been ignored. The AGA believes that the ruling will have little environmental gain while increasing costs for American families and businesses. They argue that the switch to electric heating equipment may result in higher emissions and increased monthly costs, as electric costs are 3.3 times more expensive than natural gas.