Attack on Dishwasher Standards Hurts Consumers, Environment
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
The Energy Department has proposed establishing a separate class of appliances that wash and dry dishes in less than one hour and to exempt this group from existing energy and water efficiency standards. But there are already dishwashers widely available on the market that do a great job of cleaning and drying dishes in about the same time. For context, an estimated 8.7 million dishwashers will be sold in 2019, so the number of products exempted could be substantial.
That's just one reason why DOE's proposal is being opposed by a wide range of groups — including the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), NRDC, Sierra Club, EarthJustice, and a coalition of attorneys general of 12 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York.
AHAM says weakening the standards from the current energy use requirements of 307 kilowatt-hours per year and 5 gallons of water per cycle (half the amount of water and energy that standard dishwashers consumed 20 years ago) would incur "additional costs for manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers."
DOE Proposal Violates Three Laws
The attorneys general and environmental groups believe the Energy Department's attack on long-held standards for dishwasher energy and water use is unlawful for several reasons — it violates provisions of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act, for starters. But the most succinct way to put it is this: the proposal runs afoul of EPCA's anti-backsliding provisions that strictly prevent the weakening of appliance efficiency standards and ignores ample evidence that consumers value energy efficiency when they shop for a machine to wash their dishes.
From top to bottom, the DOE proposal is based on fundamentally flawed and misleading arguments and legal principles.
First, DOE contends that quick cycles offered by current machines are designed only for lightly soiled dishes, and that dishwashers with default cycles that clean and dry dishes in less than one hour should be an entirely new class of product. Even worse, this new class wouldn't have any applicable efficiency standards, which is a huge loophole that would harm consumers and the environment.
In fact, according to an AHAM product survey, just under 87 percent of dishwasher models already include an optional cycle that can wash and dry a load of dishes in just over an hour. In addition, 48 percent of the surveyed models did not limit their quick cycle to less soiled loads.
Further, energy efficiency standards are not the only reason, or even the primary reason, affecting dishwasher cycle times. As mentioned in comments to DOE that we supported, run times are slower than they were decades ago, due to a wide variety of factors, including new types of detergents that use enzymes instead of harmful phosphates to clean better, and consumer preference for quieter dishwashers that spray water at dishes with less pressure. Both factors add to cycle times.
The fact that dishwashers use roughly half the water and energy of their counterparts of 20 years ago also makes them run slower. But today's dishwashers clean just as well as their predecessors, in many cases better. And soil sensors in most machines detect how messy plates are, ensuring dishwashers take only as long as they need to get your dishes clean.
Further undercutting DOE's arguments, data submitted by GE Appliances show that most consumers run their dishes after breakfast or dinner and wait eight hours to unload them, and that back-to-back dishwasher use is rare.
When it all comes out in the wash, DOE's attempts to carve out a class of dishwashers exempt from energy efficiency standards are unlawful and unsupported by the facts. If they succeed, the result would be less-efficient dishwashers, less guardrails on energy and water waste, and higher energy and water bills for households across the U.S.
Next, DOE will consider the comments it's received before likely publishing a final rule. We hope that DOE will reconsider and turn back from its harmful proposal. But if it doesn't, we will continue to pursue all available options to protect both consumers and the environment.
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>