A stunning decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has invalidated two Biden administration appliances rules involving clothes washers and dishwashers

The appeals court ruled the Department of Energy lacks the “statutory authority” over water usage in both dishwashers and clothes washers  – stemming from the agency invoking the Repeal Rule of Trump-era guidance concerning water use in the aforementioned appliances. 

The judges ruled, “DOE’s presently existing energy and water requirements would not have applied to the short-cycle appliance classes created in the 2020 Rules and eliminated by the Repeal Rule. That means petitioners have lost the opportunity to purchase faster and more efficacious appliances. The States are injured to the extent of that lost opportunity. And the magnitude of this lost option is not material to the standing inquiry because the inquiry turns only on whether an injury “actually exist[s].”

A lawsuit challenging the rule claimed the new standards violate the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The court’s decision affirmed this claim, stating, “No part of that text indicates Congress gave DOE power to regulate water use for energy-using appliances (like dishwashers and washing machines).”

The dishwasher rule was first published in May 2023 and claimed the new standards were energy efficient. Had the court not blocked the rule, it was expected to go into effect in 2027. 

Touted as an energy-savings measure, this rule would have required manufacturers to produce models using 3.2 gallons of water per washing cycle–down from the current five gallon standard. One report found this new standard would be adequate to fight climate change, yet would have “27% less power” and “34% less water.” At most, consumers would have only saved $30 across the new dishwasher’s lifetime–hardly a cost savings measure.

In contrast, the clothes washer rule – proposed in March 2023 – was estimated to have eliminated 98% of existing models from the market, increased per unit prices by $150-200, and save consumers a measly $7 annually in costs, at best. 

In 2024, the DOE is expected to issue final rules for more appliances. Here’s a breakdown: 

IWF Policy Coordinator Makenna McCoy analyzed the gas furnace rule that’s facing similar scrutiny, writing:

“The DOE’s regulation slated to go into effect in 2028 will make it especially difficult for low-income households that live in older and smaller homes to replace their furnaces. Specifically, it is expected to increase costs for 30% of senior-only households, 26% of low-income households, and 27% of small business consumers. All in all, the rule could increase costs for 55% of households.”

This decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is a small but important victory for energy safety

Our Center for Energy and Conservation is hopeful more of the Biden DOE’s energy conservation standards will face similar legal challenges, should Congress be unable to invalidate unconstitutional agency rulemaking.

Independent Women is exposing the Department of Energy’s over 15 proposed or finalized regulations that would make your home cost more to run, repair, and replace. This blog is the second in a series called “Secretary Granholm—Hands Off My House.” To learn more and take action, visit OUR ACTION CENTER. Be sure to check out the interactive “Secretary Granholm’s House of Horrors” to see how the rules could affect appliances in your home.