A brief was recently filed on behalf of HARDI and ACCA in the groups’ lawsuit to overturn the regional HVAC energy-efficiency standards approved by the federal Energy Department in 2011.

The brief was filed with the Washington, D.C., U.S. Court of Appeals May 29 by Cause of Action, a non-partisan organization that says it fights government corruption. It is working with the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International; and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to stop the standards from going into effect.

The suit says the Department of Energy exceeded its authority and circumvented the public-comment period when it issued the rule last year.

“This is the first time a direct final rule has been challenged in court, even though agencies have issued hundreds, if not thousands, of direct final rules over the past 20-plus years,” said Dan Epstein, Cause of Action executive director. “This is also the first time of note that an agency has so blatantly ignored both procedure and the public, creating a huge accountability problem that has led us to join in this lawsuit.”

Cause of Action said more than 30 negative public comments were submitted by HVAC professionals on the proposal.

“By refusing to withdraw a highly controversial, major direct final rule establishing energy-conservation standards, DOE radically broke with established federal agency practice and the Administrative Procedure Act’s general requirement for notice-and-comment rulemaking for regulations,” Epstein added. “Apparently 30 objections were not enough to hold this rogue agency accountable, so we have turned to the court to defend the interest of the thousands affected by this type of arbitrary decision-making and regulatory overreach.”