Environmental groups sue Trump administration over rule allowing for faster dishwashers

The US Department of Energy building is seen in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2019. By Devan Cole, CNN

(CNN) -- A coalition of environmental groups sued the Energy Department on Tuesday in an effort to block a new federal rule that would allow for faster dishwashers, arguing it could possibly lead to "higher household utility bills and more pollution."

The rule finalized by the department in October would create a product class of dishwashers "with a cycle time for the normal cycle of one hour or less from washing through drying."

But the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and other groups want a federal appeals court to review and set aside the new rule, saying it is unnecessary in part because "most of today's dishwashers already offer quick cycles, including some that take less than an hour."

President Donald Trump railed against dishwasher efficiency while on the campaign trail, including when he referenced suburban women's alleged dissatisfaction with dishwashers.

In Michigan last year, for instance, Trump claimed that while dishwashers used to generate an "explosion" at the push of a button, "now you press it 12 times, women tell me."

"This was a senseless Trump administration action that hurts consumers and all who've benefited from the significant efficiency gains in dishwashers over more than 30 years," Joe Vukovich, an energy efficiency advocate with the NRDC, said in a statement. "It also sets an appalling precedent that the agency could abuse by picking any trivial feature of an appliance and exempting it from all efficiency standards."

The Energy Department did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

In the new rule, the department referenced a shortened cycle in the context of a requirement for "a product class with a higher or lower energy use or efficiency standard than the standards applicable to other dishwasher product classes."

While some dishwashers feature cycles shorter than an hour, the department said in the rule finalized in late October that it could not confirm that they "operate within the confines of current energy and water consumption standards," which are applied to "normal" cycles.

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