Whirlpool Threatens to Leave Energy Star Program
Whirlpool is threatening to withdraw from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program unless Congress ban lawsuits associated with the program, the New York Times reports. A flurry of class-action lawsuits were filed against product manufacturers after government testing revealed that many products did not actually deserve the listing.
Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio), whose district is home to several Whirlpool factories, introduced a bill to prohibit class-action lawsuits if the EPA came up with a remedy, such as reimbursing consumers for products that did not live up to their billing.
Consumer advocates are opposed to the bill, saying that such lawsuits help to hold product manufacturers accountable for the quality of their products.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, Whirlpool, along with LG and Samsung, have faced class-action suits over products that fell out of compliance with the Energy Star program. Products with the Energy Star rating can fall out of compliance for a number of reasons, such as a change by a parts supplier that increases the energy consumption of the product during the production run or a change in the quality of the raw materials.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers said the EPA already has sufficient authority to protect consumers and make the determination of whether compensation is appropriate.
The Consumers Union disagreed, saying that EPA and the Department of Energy cannot catch every small violation and that consumers need the courts to protect them in cases where there are a lot of small injuries, such as appliances that use a few extra dollars worth of electricity each month.
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