President-elect Barack Obama formally announced today his nomination of Steven Chu to be Secretary of the Department of Energy. The following statement is from Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, a leading environmental law organization working to build a clean energy future.
"Steven Chu, the new nominee to head the U.S. Department of Energy, must make energy efficiency a top priority for the new administration. By adopting the strongest energy efficiency standards possible for household appliances and commercial products, the Department can slash energy waste and save consumers money.
"As the President-elect has cited, energy efficiency is America’s cleanest, cheapest and fastest energy source. Under President Bush, DOE adopted weak energy efficiency standards for a variety of appliances and products. During President-elect Obama’s first term, DOE is scheduled to adopt more than two dozen standards for appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, battery chargers, clothes washers, water heaters and certain light fixtures. The savings potential for consumers and business is phenomenal. To cite just one example, stronger efficiency standards for fluorescent tube lights used in homes and offices could save at least $66 billion over three decades and enough energy to power every home in America for an entire year."
Chu shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics and has served for the last four years as director of the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
In an October 2007 New York Times piece Chu said: "Sustainable energy is the equivalent of the U.S. moon shot… what the United States invested in the Apollo program, money of that magnitude, I am confident, would reveal a lot of breakthroughs in energy technologies, efficiency technologies and new forms of energy.”
"Earthjustice hopes that Chu will make energy efficiency a top priority," Van Noppen continued. "We can cut energy consumption and curb greenhouse gases by setting strong national efficiency standards for buildings and appliances. Efficiency is a fast, cheap foundation for any serious economic recovery initiative and will help address climate change at the same time .We look forward to working with the White House and the Department of Energy in attaining this goal."
Read Earthjustice’s clean energy future platform (PDF)
Currently, Earthjustice represents several environmental groups in challenging weak and insufficient energy efficiency standards for residential furnaces and electricity distribution transformers. The following list represents a schedule of appliance standards expected from the Department of Energy:
Date Standard Required
Ranges, Ovens, & Microwave Ovens
Commercial Clothes Washers
Linear Fluorescent Lamps & Incandescent Reflector Lamps
Beverage Vending Machines
Small Electric Motors
Residential Water Heaters, Pool Heaters, & Direct Heaters
Residential Refrigerators & Freezers
Room Air Conditioners
Residential Central Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps
Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts
Battery Chargers & External Power Supplies
Residential Clothes Washers