Decorative fireplaces win a court fight
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled today in favor of an appeal filed by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) challenging DOE’s recent actions to regulate decorative hearth products. The Court ordered that “the entire statutory definition of ‘Vented Hearth Heater’ be vacated, and remanded the definition to DOE to interpret the challenged provisions in accordance with the Court’s opinion.
Rick Roldan, president and CEO of NPGA stated: “If left unchallenged, the effect of the DOE rules would have eliminated entire product lines of decorative gas fireplaces and decorative gas log sets that would no longer be available to home builders or homeowners. Additionally, the rules unfairly targeted the small businesses comprising the propane industry and would have resulted in a more than $20 million loss for our industry.”
The Court also rejected DOE’s notion that these products could be regulated by establishing exclusion criteria, including a ban on standing pilot lights. This equated to imposing a design standard on the industry, and the Court ruled that DOE does not have the statutory authority to do so in this circumstance.
The decision strikes down onerous regulatory requirements imposed by the two DOE Final Rules affecting vented gas fireplaces, and gas log sets (75 Fed. Reg. 20112 and 76 Fed. Reg. 71836). The ruling culminates a nearly two-year battle of the propane and hearth product industries with DOE on the agency’s ruling of vented gas hearth products.