Biden Department of Energy proposes rule to cut emissions by 373 million metric tons


The Natural Resources Defense Council said new efficiency standards for furnaces 'will significantly lower energy bills each year and slash dangerous climate-warming emissions across the nation.'

The Department of Energy announced on Monday that the Biden administration was proposing a federal rule that would mandate new energy efficiency standards for gas furnaces used in residential properties.

The department estimates that once the standards are enacted, they will reduce carbon emissions by 373 million metric tons over a 30-year period and reduce methane emissions by 5.1 million tons over that same time period. It estimates that the new standards will also save consumers more than $1.9 billion per year on their energy bills.

"These efficiency measures not only reduce carbon and methane emissions, but also provide huge material benefits to American households in the form of cleaner air, modernized technology, and cheaper energy," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in the department's statement.

Proposed federal rules must be made available for public comment for a number of weeks before they are finalized. The administration has set up a time frame for the furnace rule to take effect starting in 2029.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental nonprofit, praised the Biden administration's announcement.

"Americans have been forced to rely on antiquated and wasteful furnaces for long enough. Since about half of the homes in the U.S. depend on fossil fuels for space heating, this standard will significantly lower energy bills each year and slash dangerous climate-warming emissions across the nation," said the group's energy efficiency advocate, Joe Vukovich, in a statement.

Vice President Kamala Harris had announced plans in November 2021 for the administration to work with private businesses to support innovation in the development of electric heat pumps for homes, seen in some cases as a way to reduce energy consumption and address climate change.

The actions taken by the Biden administration follow its reversal of federal rules put in place by the outgoing administration of former President Donald Trump that made it more difficult to regulate furnaces.

Just days before Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, the Trump team finalized its rules, which created multiple classes of furnaces and made it more complicated to create federal rules to regulate them. In August 2021, the Biden Department of Energy proposed reversing the Trump rules, and the action was finalized in December of that year.

Biden's actions on furnaces follow his use of executive actions to advance the use of clean energy. On June 6, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the domestic supply of several classes of material, most notably those used in the production of components for solar panels.

Materials for the manufacture of heat pumps, which it said "heat and cool buildings super efficiently," were cited by the White House as one of the "critical" clean energy technologies whose production was being prioritized.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.