More Regulation from the DOE
In 2010 and 2011, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published rulemaking that would have severely impacted gas logs and gas fireplaces.
The HPBA, joined by the NPGA, filed suit against DOE to stop the rulemaking. We ultimately prevailed in the DC Court of Appeals (at a cost of $2.7 million in legal fees), but the ruling gave DOE an avenue to renew its aim of regulating our industry by redefining the term “Vented Hearth Heaters” that the court struck down.
On December 31, 2013, DOE gave notice of intent to regulate our industry by declaring regulatory coverage for a new, very broad term “Hearth Product”. Per the notice:
“Hearth product means a gas-fired appliance that simulates a solid-fueled fireplace or presents a flame pattern (for aesthetics or other purpose) and that may provide space heating directly to the space in which it is installed.
This proposed definition includes (but is not necessarily limited to) all vented and unvented hearth products. More specifically, it includes vented decorative hearth products, vented heater hearth products, vented gas logs, gas stoves, outdoor hearth products, and ventless hearth products.”
In January, Rasmussen submitted comments in opposition of this proposed coverage. On June 26, Rett Rasmussen was interviewed by Navigant, the DOE contractor tasked with investigating options for DOE to include in the upcoming rulemaking. The intent of this new rulemaking is to regulate “Hearth Products” to improve efficiency and/or conserve energy usage. Next week, on July 9, HPBA has called a meeting of manufacturers at the Phoenix offices of Polsinelli, our industry’s law firm, to plot a unified course for protecting our industry, products and markets.
What can you do?
- Pray, for starters. DOE is back with a vengeance, an over-broad agenda, and more money and resources than sense.
- Read the docket at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EERE-2013-BT-DET-0057 This includes the Notice of Propose Coverage from 12/31/13 and all of the comments submitted during the comment period., including Rett Rasmussen’s at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EERE-2013-BT-DET-0057-0009. Please note the lack of documentation by DOE in support of this action.
- Buy products from HPBA member gas appliance manufacturers. Under the new HPBA Sections structure, all of the cost of fighting DOE will be borne by the manufacturers, unlike the past where HPBA split the cost (which depleted their reserves and cannot be duplicated on this new action). We need sales to have the funds to fight to keep our products salable. Please purchase from those who are carrying the water for our industry.
- Be prepared to contact you congressman. HPBA is also exploring legislative means for protecting our industry, but the lack of activity by Congress leading up to the mid-term elections does not work in our favor. Very little legislation on any matter at all is being passed. An opportunity may be possible in the fall and will we need to act quickly and decisively should it occur.
- Elections matter. Vote wisely in November. Rett will give you his unvarnished opinion if you ask him directly.
- Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted on events as they develop.