A California district court has granted a request by an HVAC equipment manufacturers association to join two federal lawsuits as defendants.

The identical federal lawsuits seek to force the government to finalize energy-efficiency rules announced near the end of the Obama administration. With the election of President Donald Trump, new regulations were suspended during public review while they were checked by the White House.  

Several of the proposed rules, including one dealing with packaged commercial boilers, have not been published in the Federal Register — a step required before regulations can go into effect.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute asked Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to add it to the suit, noting that members had an interest in ensuring proper interpretation of the Energy Department’s error correction rule.

AHRI officials say the environmental groups and state governments involved in the lawsuits are looking to improperly limit the department’s ability to correct regulations before they are finalized.

"We are pleased that the court has granted us intervenor status in this important case," said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. "The error correction rule resulted from our settlement with DOE in prior litigation, and it is critical that manufacturers are represented in any proceedings that would determine DOE's ability to modify or withdraw pre-published rules."

The judge ordered the plaintiffs to consolidate their complaints by Sept. 8 and defendants to reply by Sept. 22. Parties will also attend a case management conference.

"We believe these cases raise important issues about regulatory certainty for manufacturers and stakeholder engagement in DOE's rulemaking process," Yurek said. "We look forward to briefing the issues and working with all the parties in these cases to ensure that our members' views are represented."