Breaking News: Federal Court Grants Motion to Stay Furnace Rules

May 1, 2013
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) just released an anouncement that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled in favor of an emergency motion that was filed by the Air-conditioning  Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). In effect, this motion prvents the Department of Energy from applying and enforcing residential furnace efficiency standards until the AHRI suite is resolved.

In an announcement just released by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, (ACCA), their vice president of government relationsm Charlie McCrudden discusses this breaking news and its ramifications to the HVAC Industry.

In the release, McCrudden says, "[The high efficiency furnace] standards, requiring residential non-weatherized natural gas furnaces to be installed in 30 northern states to have an AFUE rating of at least 90%, were finalized in 2011 with an effective date of May 1, 2013. Almost immediately those standards faced a legal challenge by the American Public Gas Association. ACCA joined in the challenge to the standards. After months of legal wrangling, a proposed settlement rescinding the rules for furnaces was filed with the Court in January 2013. Unfortunately the Court has not yet ruled on the settlement and the rules remain on the books. 

"Earlier this month, in light of the looming May 1 compliance date and the lack of a Court ruling on the settlement, the DOE announced through an "Enforcement Policy Statement" that the agency would enforce the rules as if the settlement agreement had been accepted. While DOE's announcement gave some relief from the uncertainty of the pending compliance date, the Court's action today legally prevents the agency from enforcing the rules until the case is resolved."
McCrudden adds that for now, the industry must wait for the Court's ruling on the proposed settlement, so that the DOE can start over writing new furnace standards.

"However, should the Court reject the settlement the case would go to trial. At that point there are two possible outcomes. One is that the legal challenge would prevail and the rules would be officially stricken from the books. But if the rules are upheld and remain in place after a trial, then under this motion, the rules would take effect six months later," he says.

For more information, go to the ACCA website.