Court Ruling Sends Biden’s Dishwasher/Washing Machine Restrictions Back to the Drawing Board – But, Doesn’t Stop Them

Craig Bannister | January 11, 2024
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled against a Biden Administration rule that would place onerous, costly and self-defeating restrictions on Americans’ dishwashers and washing machines – but, the decision doesn’t overturn the Biden rule.

Late Monday, the court sided with an 11-state lawsuit against a Department of Energy (DOE) rule repealing a Trump-era rule that exempted faster dishwashers and washing machines from strict water-use standards that would ban many of the products sold in stores today.

While the court ruled that the DOE’s repeal-rule is “arbitrary and capricious,” it simply sent it back to the Department, apparently without throwing it out:

“In 2022, the Department of Energy tightened the regulatory regime surrounding America’s dishwashers and laundry machines. Petitioners sued.

“The Department’s actions were arbitrary and capricious. So we grant the petition and remand to the Department.”

….

“For the foregoing reasons, the petition for review is GRANTED.

“And the matter is REMANDED to DOE for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The court found specific flaws in the DOE’s repeal-rule, including:

  • DOE doesn’t appear to have statutory authority to regulate water use in dishwashers and clothes washers.
  • DOE failed to consider the negative consequences of its actions.
  • DOE failed to consider alternatives to repealing the entire Trump-era rule.
  • DOE failed to substantially address concerns presented regarding its repeal-rule.

 

The court agreed with the lawsuit’s contention that the DOE’s new restrictions may actually result in Americans using more water, not less, because they’ll have to run their appliances multiple times in order to properly clean their clothes and dishes.

However, as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) notes, the court’s decision allows Biden’s ban of faster dishwashers to stand while the DOE figures out how to re-write its repeal-rule:

“The ultimate result of the decision is that the Court told the agency to do its job right this time. The Court didn’t vacate the rule, so faster dishwashers won’t be allowed for now, but this opinion will force DOE to explain itself.”

Likewise, analysis of the decision published in “The Hill” concludes that the court’s decision doesn’t actually stop Biden’s repeal rule, it just sends DOE back to the drawing board:

“A federal court dealt a blow late Monday to a Biden administration rule that sought to make dishwashers and laundry machines more efficient, but it did not appear to go as far as throwing the rule out.”

….

“It called the rule ‘arbitrary and capricious’ and sent it back to the Energy Department (DOE) to address these issues. However, it did not appear to eliminate the existing rule in the meantime.”

Nonetheless consumer advocates and free market supporters are cheering the decision as an important rebuke of the Biden Administration’s efforts to dictate what Americans can, and cannot, buy.

“In this opinion, the court has forced DOE to follow the law and even noted that one of the positions DOE took in this suit ‘borders on frivolous,’” CEI Attorney Devin Watkins told the Washington Examiner.

"It's not 'energy efficient to have to wash your dishes and clothes twice (for hours)," plaintiff-state Louisiana’s Attorney General Liz Murrill, wrote on social media:

"The Biden Administration's dishwasher rule saved neither energy nor water. For families- moms, dads, and kids who do laundry and dishes, this is a big win! We want appliances that work. I'll keep fighting these irrational attacks on families and consumers by bureaucrats in D.C."

“The 5th Circuit’s ruling is a vindication of everything we’ve been saying about the Biden administration’s anti-consumer choice agenda,” Consumers’ Research Executive Director Will Hide said in a statement, explaining that the ruling if proof that the Biden Administration’s true goal is to dictate how Americans live their lives, not to make those lives better:

“Their supposed ‘green’ regulations weren’t about saving the environment, they were about restricting options and telling Americans how to live.

“Using their ESG agenda as an excuse, they’ve passed restrictions on everything from gas stoves to dishwashers to clothes dryers. These would be ruinous for Americans if allowed to stand. We are proud to be part of the fight to keep Biden’s intrusive government out of our kitchens and laundry rooms.”

 

 

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