When asked to comment on President Trump’s attempt to completely defund the Energy Star energy efficiency program, Nationwide senior executive Tom Hickman went with a golf metaphor: “I’m not worried. That’s a pretty tough putt.”
The voluntary program is a victim of the president’s proposed federal budget, which calls for draconian cuts to its parent, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and “zeroes out” Energy Star next year.
“There has been a lot of energy put behind the program for a lot of years and the brand recognition speaks for itself. Look, you can talk about the bureaucracy of it but in the end it’s been a good program that has saved consumers money and has been universally adopted by manufacturers. I doubt [killing it] would get the momentum it would need.”
The program has kept 4.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere since 1992 and saved consumers more than $200 billion in reduced energy bills by steering shoppers toward certified energy-efficient products.
In 2014 alone the program reduced total U.S. demand for electricity by 5 percent, the EPA said.
According to a blog by Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy group, Energy Star also helps drive business for manufacturers and retailers, yet costs taxpayers only $50 million a year, or 0.6 percent of the EPA’s total 2017 budget, while providing a return on investment of more than 500 percent.
“Given the massive benefits and proven track record of this program, along with the support from consumers, manufacturers, home builders, building owners, retailer and utilities, it’s hard to imagine why the Trump administration or Congress would consider gutting or eliminating this program,” Horowitz wrote.
But the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the Washington-based trade group for white-goods vendors, is proposing a new lease on life for Energy Star by moving it to the DOE.
According to AHAM communications and marketing VP Jill Notini, the association has been seeking reforms to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which governs the DOE’s Appliance Standards program.
“Part of that push is to get the Energy Star program back in the hands of the Department of Energy from EPA,” she told TWICE in an email. “The DOE is the agency that has the product expertise, and develops the product test procedures and standards, so it makes sense that DOE would be the agency to manage this program.”
The Trump administration is expected to submit a finalized budget proposal in May. – Additional reporting by John Laposky