A proposed rule by President Biden's Department of Energy (DOE) would change efficiency standards for washing machines by mandating new machines use considerably less water in the administration's latest effort to "confront the global climate crisis."
Those mandates would force manufacturers to reduce cleaning performance to ensure their machines comply, leading industry giants such as Whirlpool said in public comments on the rule. They'll also make the appliances more expensive and laundry day a headache—each cycle will take longer, the detergent will cost more, and in the end, the clothes will be less clean, the manufacturers say, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
In its proposal, the Energy Department even noted that "maintaining acceptable cleaning performance can be more difficult as energy and water levels are reduced." But at the same time, the department said it was assured manufacturers could comply to meet the same level of machine performance.
"When you're squeezing all you can out of the efficiency in terms of electricity use and water … you by definition either make the appliance worse or slower," said Fisher, who serves as a senior research fellow at the foundation's Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment. "Why are we so focused on the energy output, as opposed to if it's helping me wash my clothes? That standard has kind of gone off the rails," The Heritage Foundation's Travis Fisher told the Free Beacon.
The Energy Department claims such changes will save Americans money in the long run even though the prices for new appliances could skyrocket. The department even estimated manufacturers would have to shell out almost $700 million in conversion costs to build the new washing machines.
In addition, the department also proposed new energy-efficiency standards for refrigerators that would be effective in 2027.
"Households using new refrigerators and clothes washers will save an estimated $425 on their utility bill over the average life of the appliance with these standards in place, on top of the benefits Americans are experiencing from prior improvements," the Energy Department said.
While the government claims higher appliance prices will ultimately save consumers money through lower energy and water bills, the Free Beacon reports those estimated savings won't apply to all consumers, roughly a quarter of whom "would experience a net cost."
The new rule marks another example of the Biden administration trying to change consumer regulations to meet its green initiative goals.
CBN News reached out to the Department of Energy for comment on the new washing machine proposal. A DOE spokesperson replied in an email, "Despite misleading claims, these proposals are intended for nothing more than promoting innovation without sacrificing reliability and performance and keeping money in the pockets of Americans everywhere."
"As evidenced in the Department's testing and analysis, the proposed standards would not reduce product performance or negatively impact cleaning ability or cycle time," the spokesperson told CBN News.
Republican Congresswoman Says DOE's Move to Ban All Gas Stoves Is Real
As CBN News reported in January, multiple reports indicated the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was considering banning natural gas stoves, allegedly due to concerns over how they might affect children's health.
The administration said studies show that chemicals get into homes through stoves, specifically citing asthma cases.
"These are oxides of nitrogen or NOx that get released into our homes when we use gas to cook," said Dr. Aaron Bernstein with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "And those and NOx are well known to contribute to asthma."
Experts say for those concerned about health issues, there are steps they can take right now by simply providing a little bit of ventilation, like a range hood above the stove.
"The first best actionable thing we can do and that is, to make sure that we use hoods," Dr. Bernstein said. "We use ventilation. If we don't have those installed, we can at least try and open a window."
The American Gas Association also entered the fray, pushing back against the administration in a statement, saying: "A December 2022 report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health linking natural gas cooking with asthma is not substantiated by sound science."
Calling the discussion to remove a consumer energy choice "reckless," the association told the administration they "should rely on real data and science, not unsubstantiated claims."
"Attempts to generate consumer fears with baseless allegations to justify the banning of natural gas is a misguided agenda that will not improve the environment or the health of consumers and would saddle vulnerable populations with significant costs," the AGA said.
The White House tried to calm fears saying President Biden did not support banning all gas stoves. But now comes word about a controversial new proposal by the Energy Department that would impose severe energy performance standards on residential cooktops.
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In an op-ed published by The Washington Examiner on March 14, U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) writes, "The department's proposed rule sets requirements for gas cooktops at the maximum technologically feasible or 'max-tech' level. Based on the Department of Energy's own analysis, gas cooktops at the max-tech level represent just 4% of current market share and exclude all conventional free-stand ranges."
"Any rule that causes 96% of the products available today to be eliminated from the market is an extreme regulation. In fact, it is essentially an outright ban on gas stoves," the Arizona congresswoman added.
Lesko also explained the department's proposed standards would mean manufacturers would have to drastically redesign the cooktops, resulting in smaller burners and longer cooking times. The smaller grates to hold cookware could also be less sturdy.
"Comically, Biden's Department of Energy is justifying this proposed requirement based on estimated savings to the consumer for gas cooktops of $21.89 over the next 14.5 years, which equates to a savings of just $1.50 per year. People are not willing to trade such substantially decreased functionality and features for minuscule savings," Lesko noted.
"Once again, the Biden administration proves it is out of touch with the average American," she wrote.
The proposed regulation is now open for public comment. Click HERE to submit comments at Regulations.gov through April 3.
CBN News also asked the DOE about the claims cited by Rep. Lesko. The spokesperson said there will be no ban on any appliances.
"The Department is conducting this rulemaking on gas and electric cooktops to fulfill its statutory obligations as directed by Congress and a consent decree deadline requiring the final rule to be completed by January 2024. DOE proposes efficiency standards all the time — for lightbulbs, washers and dryers, refrigerators, and more. Does it mean they're coming to ban those appliances? Of course not. Instead, the Department is building on decades-long efforts with industry to ensure our appliances work more efficiently and save Americans money."
The department's spokesperson also said, "Suggestions that only 1 out of 21 (4%) stoves would meet the proposed standards without significant modification are misleading and misinterpreting data... Suggesting these Congressionally-mandated proposals from DOE would ban 96% of gas stoves are simply false."
Editor's Note: The Energy Department is required by law to conduct efficiency standard reviews every six years under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). The law was passed by Congress in 1975. Current efficiency standards have not been updated for washing machines since 2012, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. Standards for refrigerators were last set in 2011, despite the DOE being required to consider updating energy efficiency rules by 2017, the group said.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers also said in a statement that "more stringent federal efficiency standards are likely to increase costs for manufacturers and consumers without providing meaningful energy savings."
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