March 19, 2004
Hon. George W. Bush,
The White House,
Mr. President: A recent federal court decision regarding energy efficient air conditioners is a significant victory for consumers, for the environment, and for our nation's energy future. We respectfully request that you do not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District (Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Abraham, Docket 01-4102) affirmed that central air conditioners sold beginning in 2006 must be at least 30 percent more energy efficient than those available today.
Air conditioners are a necessary modern convenience but are also major users of electricity. On hot days, cooling homes and businesses is the largest category of electricity demand. Requiring air conditioners to be as energy efficient as possible will begin to reduce the stress on the electricity generation and transmission network and decrease the likelihood of blackouts that many regions of the country experience during warm weather conditions.
Air conditioners that meet the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard will provide benefits for consumers, the environment, and the nation. The SEER 13 standard will alleviate the need for additional electricity production and transmission resulting in as many as 48 fewer power plants required by 2020. This standard will also result in less harmful air pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. Moreover, by 2020 power plant emissions of carbon dioxide will be 2.5 million tons lower as a result, and emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides will also be held down resulting in cleaner air and healthier citizens.
Finally, the higher standard can be expected to save businesses and residential consumers $1 billion per year in lower electricity bills. Lower electricity bills will recover the slightly higher purchase cost for the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months.
As the Congress continues to debate the future of our nation's energy policy, this court decision is one that should be embraced and encouraged, not appealed.
Tom Carper, Susan Collins, Byron L. Dorgan, Peter Fitzgerald, Jeff Bingaman, Dick Durbin, Jack Reed, Lincoln D. Chafee, Charles Schumer, Deborah Stabenow, Dianne Feinstein, Daniel K. Akaka, Elizabeth Dole, Ernest Hollings, Patty Murray, Lamar Alexander, Judd Gregg, Carl Levin, Olympia Snowe, Joseph Lieberman, Paul Sarbanes, Max Baucus, Maria Cantwell, Patrick Leahy, Joe Biden, Russell D. Feingold, Jim Jeffords, Jay Rockefeller, Frank Lautenberg, Ben Nelson, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Barbara A. Mikulski, Christopher Dodd, Jon Corzine, John E. Sununu, Mark Dayton, Arlen Specter, Bill Nelson, Bob Graham, Ted Kennedy, Gordon Smith, Ron Wyden, Robert C. Byrd, Herb Kohl, Tim Johnson, John Edwards, John F. Kerry, Thomas Daschle, Daniel Inouye, Kent Conrad, Harry Reid, Richard Lugar.