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In D.C. court, a victory for hearth and home

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An estimated two-thirds of the 6 million or so gas fireplaces in the U.S. are purely decorative.

And thanks to a recent court order, these decorative fireplaces will not have to abide by Department of Energy regulations on energy efficiency — averting big losses for manufacturers. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an appeal filed by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) challenging the DOE's recent actions to regulate decorative hearth products.

The victory for the hearth products industry, according to the NPGA, culminates a nearly two-year battle of the propane and hearth product industries with the DOE on the agency's ruling of vented gas hearth products.

"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," said Rick Roldan, president and CEO of NPGA. "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 the 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 the DOE does not have the statutory authority to do so in this circumstance.

The decision strikes down 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).


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