FIRST ON FOX: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee canceled a vote to advance President Biden’s nominee to oversee energy efficiency regulations in an unexpected last-minute change, Fox News Digital has learned.
Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., pulled an agenda item to consider Biden’s nomination of Jeff Marootian to lead the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) from a scheduled panel meeting Wednesday morning. The committee had been slated to advance the nomination to a full floor vote, but will now just consider the 21 other agenda items.
“While I supported Mr. Marootian’s nomination in December, since then the office he’s been nominated to lead has proposed stove efficiency rules that I’ve raised concerns about,” Manchin told Fox News Digital in a statement.
“While I appreciate that these rules would only apply to new stoves, my view is that it’s part of a broader, administration-wide effort to eliminate fossil fuels,” the West Virginia lawmaker continued. “For that reason, I’m not comfortable moving forward with Mr. Marootian at this time.”
Marootian was first nominated to take the helm at the EERE office in July 2022 after serving as special assistant to President Biden and, prior to that role, director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation. The position has been vacant since Daniel Simmons, who led the office throughout the Trump administration, departed the DOE in early 2021.
DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm then hired Marootian as her senior advisor for energy efficiency and renewable energy in September. His confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took place in November and he was reported out of committee in December, but his nomination stalled at the end of session, forcing Biden to renominate him in January.
Granholm said last year that Marootian would be a “natural fit to lead the Department’s largest applied energy office” and help the administration meet its “bold clean energy goals.” However, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., opposed the nomination, saying Marootian was more qualified for a Transportation Department role.
Since Marootian was hired to advise Granholm on energy efficiency and since his nomination was returned to the White House, though, the DOE has pursued a number of energy efficiency regulations impacting a number of household appliances including natural gas-powered stovetops that have been criticized by consumer advocates as overreach.
The EERE office is broadly tasked with decarbonizing the U.S. economy, largely through appliance regulations.
“It’s just spreading to more and more appliances. It seems that almost everything that plugs in or fires up around the house is either subject to a pending regulation or soon will be,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital in an interview last week.
“Consumers aren’t going to like any of it,” he added. “These rules are almost always bad for consumers for the simple reason that they restrict consumer choice.”
Over the last five months alone, the DOE has unveiled standards to make various appliances, including ovens, clothes washers, refrigerators, air conditioners and dishwashers, more energy-efficient. The agency’s rules targeting stoves, unveiled in February and projected to take 50% of current models off the market, have particularly faced the ire of Manchin, Republicans and consumer groups.
And according to the current federal Unified Agenda — a government-wide, semiannual list that highlights regulations agencies plan to propose or finalize within the next 12 months — the Biden administration is moving forward with rules impacting dozens more appliances, including consumer furnaces, pool pumps, battery chargers, ceiling fans and dehumidifiers.
“This administration is using all of the tools at our disposal to save Americans money while promoting innovations that will reduce carbon pollution and combat the climate crisis,” Granholm said on May 5 after unveiling rules cracking down on dishwashers, electric motors and beverage vending machines.
“With today’s announcements, DOE is making rapid progress to strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards — as directed by Congress and in coordination with our industry partners and stakeholders — and support healthier, safer communities for the American people.”