tive compliance payments. Finally, the administering agency must be given adequate budgetary resources in order to staff the program effectively.

Example 2:
Implementation of Appliance Efficiency Standards

Appliance efficiency standards will likely be part of the national policy portfolio for reducing GHG emissions. The DOE has long had authority to issue appliance standards and is required by statute to periodically reevaluate and reissue new standards for a large number of residential and commercial products. States are generally preempted from issuing their own standards if federal standards are in place, unless the DOE grants a state waiver based on stringent statutory requirements. To date, DOE has missed every congressional deadline set for establishing energy-efficiency standards (GAO, 2007). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that a principal reason for this failure to comply with statutory deadlines has been the lack of sufficient funding to adequately staff the program. This implies that, at a minimum, Congress needs to provide adequate funding for DOE to meet its statutory obligations in a timely fashion.

Congress may want to take additional measures to strengthen the likelihood that appliance standards will be issued as early as possible, in order to maximize energy savings and consequent GHG emissions reductions. In particular, Congress could make it easier for states to set their own appliance standards. The current waiver language requires a state to demonstrate that more stringent state regulation is necessary to meet “unusual and compelling State or local energy or water interests” that “are substantially different in nature or magnitude than those prevailing in the United States generally” (42 U.S.C. 6297(d)(1)(A) (2007)). To date only one waiver request has been filed (by California), and it was denied. Congress could alter this preemption language by instead allowing for waivers if the proposed new appliance standards are more stringent than federal law. Other possible options include allowing a “California exemption” (as with autos) or allowing for alternative state standards if DOE has missed its statutory deadline for setting new standards.


Congress and the executive branch must remain informed about a wide array of scientific, technical, and economic information related to climate change and to our nation’s response strategies. In some contexts, policy makers face a paucity of relevant information (for instance, subnational-level policy makers may lack needed information

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