Obama's Next Energy Secretary Must Prioritize Energy Efficiency

Ending energy waste would protect environment and save people money


Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 237 

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."



Additional Resources

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

Supermarket Refrigeration

January 2009

Ranges, Ovens, & Microwave Ovens

March 2009

Commercial Clothes Washers

March 2009

Linear Fluorescent Lamps & Incandescent Reflector Lamps

June 2009

Beverage Vending Machines

August 2009

Small Electric Motors

February 2010

Residential Water Heaters, Pool Heaters, & Direct Heaters

March 2010

Residential Refrigerators & Freezers

December 2010

Clothes Dryers

June 2011

Room Air Conditioners

June 2011

Residential Central Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps

June 2011

Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts

June 2011

Battery Chargers & External Power Supplies

July 2011

Residential Clothes Washers

December 2011


Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.