In a news release to MHProNews and others in manufactured housing is the following from the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). The topic is the ongoing controversies regarding the pending Department of Energy (DOE) standards proposed for HUD Code manufactured homes, which MHARR has characterized as a “bait and switch” that is harmful to the affordability of our industry’s homes for consumers and thus is also negatively impactful to the industry’s independents.
MHARR CALLS OUT DOE ENERGY STANDARDS BAIT AND SWITCH
Washington, D.C., May 9, 2022 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in a May 4, 2022 communication to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm (copy attached), has called-out DOE’s duplicity in altering – after the conclusion of any opportunity for public comment – the fundamental nature and cost of its proposed energy conservation standards for manufactured homes.
As presented for public comment, as well as comment and input from HUD’s statutory Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) – during an administrative process that lasted more than six months – DOE characterized its “primary” manufactured housing energy conservation proposal as a “tiered” standard, with an alleged retail purchase price impact “averaging” $750.00.
MHARR warned at the time – in comments filed with the MHCC – that given the structure of DOE’s August 26, 2021 Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) and DOE’s track record of duplicity over the entire course of the energy standards rulemaking, this was likely a ruse designed to lull stakeholders, HUD and the MHCC into a false sense of complacency. In part, MHARR stated that: “despite all the talk of a ‘tiered’ system, and the use of a tiered proposal to mislead and lure stakeholders, the public and the MHCC into supporting the DOE SNPR, a final rule in this matter could ultimately have no separate cost-based ‘tiers’ at all, and subject all manufactured homes to high-cost market-crushing IECC-based energy standards.” (Emphasis added).
And now, of course, DOE has done exactly what MHARR predicted in its September 15, 2021 MHCC comments. Buried in a 400+ page final DOE “Environmental Impact Statement” (EIS) filed in connection with the proposed manufactured housing energy rule, is a statement that after “consideration of public comments received on the draft EIS combined with stakeholder inputs under the rulemaking process, DOE has identified the untiered standards as the preferred alternative….” (Emphasis added). Unlike the “tiered” proposed standards, the “untiered” standards based on the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), could result in retail purchase price increases of $2,567.00 to $6,149.00, by DOE’s own admission (and, based on industry input, much more than that) before inflationary impacts and the costs of testing, regulatory compliance, and enforcement – which have never been publicly estimated by DOE, HUD, or anyone else — are even considered.
MHARR’s communication, accordingly, refers to this de facto “bait and switch” after the conclusion of the public comment period for the proposed rule, as “wholly reprehensible and yet further evidence of DOE’s ongoing bad faith and misconduct in this matter.”
MHARR will continue to aggressively oppose the deceitful and unnecessary DOE energy rule which will impose harsh and needless cost burdens on lower and moderate-income Americans and further increase homelessness and the debilitating shortage of affordable housing and homeownership, contrary to the stated policies of President Biden. This effort will include both administrative steps and potential industry legal action.
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of independent producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.
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The ‘attachment’ referenced above is the FedEx delivered letter to DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm shown below.
May 4, 2022
VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
Hon. Jennifer Granholm
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585-0121
Re: Energy Conservation Program: Proposed Energy
Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing
Dear Secretary Granholm:
I am writing on behalf of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). MHARR is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing. MHARR has previously submitted extensive comments to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regarding DOE-proposed energy conservation standards for manufactured housing pursuant to section 413 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) (42 U.S.C. 17071) and related Environmental Impact Statements pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
DOE published proposed manufactured housing energy conservation standards on August 26, 2021, together with a modified proposed rule and supplementary “analysis” on October 26, 2021. Pursuant to EISA section 413, the DOE-proposed standards were contemporaneously submitted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) established by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 5403). The MHCC considered the DOE-proposed standards during a series of meetings conducted on September 23, 2021, October 8, 2021, October 20, 2021, and November 19, 2021.
Both as published for public comment and as presented to the MHCC over the entire course of its deliberations, the DOE proposed standards were based on a so-called “tiered approach” as DOE’s “primary proposal.” (Emphasis added). Under that “tiered” proposal, as described by DOE, “a subset of the energy conservation standards would be less stringent for certain manufactured homes in light of the cost-effectiveness considerations required by statute.” The retail purchase price threshold for manufactured homes subject to the less stringent “Tier 1” standards was initially set at $55,000 (later changed to $63,000). By contrast, DOE’s proposed rule and October 26, 2021 “Notice of Data Availability” (NODA) characterized an “untiered approach,” wherein energy conservation standards for all manufactured homes would be based “only on the 2021 [International Energy Conservation Code],” with significantly higher purchase price impacts, as only an “alternate proposal.”
Based on DOE’s designation of the “tiered approach” as its “primary proposal,” the MHCC, on November 23, 2021, submitted comments opposing the proposed rule, stating, in part: “The MHCC believes that the proposal in its current state is flawed and should not be implemented … due to its lack of proper/accurate cost benefit analysis, consideration for manufactured home construction methods, transportation constraints and testing/enforcement criteria.”
Now, though, that the entire public notice and comment process for the proposed rule has been completed, with no further opportunity for public input, DOE has announced, in its final Environmental Impact Statement, published on April 8, 2022, that it is switching its “primary” and “alternate” proposals as originally published – and as presented for public comment – and is designating the much-higher-cost “un-tiered” criteria as its “preferred” proposal. (See, April 8, 2022 EIS at pp. 2-10 and C-6: “DOE has identified the untiered standards as [its] preferred alternative” for “establishing energy conservation [standards] for manufactured housing.”)
Based on DOE’s consistent track record of duplicity in this rulemaking, as exhaustively documented by MHARR in August 8, 2016 comments to DOE on a prior iteration of the proposed rule, MHARR anticipated exactly such a move by DOE, warning, in comments submitted to the MHCC on September 15, 2021:
“DOE, in its August 26, 2021 SNPR, attempts to paper-over these damning purchase price impacts by – at least for now — bifurcating its proposed standard into two separate ‘tiers.’ *** Significantly, though, DOE’s August 26, 2021 SNPR includes, as an ‘alternative proposal,’ an ‘untiered’ approach, wherein energy conservation standards for all manufactured homes would be based ‘only on the 2021 IECC.’ Put differently, this means that despite all the talk of a ‘tiered’ system, and the use of a tiered proposal to mislead and lure stakeholders, the public and the MHCC into supporting the DOE SNPR, a final rule in this matter could ultimately have no separate cost-based ‘tiers’ at all, and subject all manufactured homes to high-cost market-crushing IECC-based energy standards. For this reason alone, the MHCC should reject the DOE proposed rule.”
(Emphasis added). And now, DOE – through a one-sentence statement buried within a 400+ page document — has fulfilled MHARR’s prediction.
This de facto “bait and switch” after the conclusion of the public comment period for the proposed rule is wholly reprehensible and yet further evidence of DOE’s ongoing bad faith and misconduct in this matter. As MHARR has documented from the outset, this entire rulemaking has been corrupted by DOE deceit and manipulation, and must be terminated in its present iteration. In its place, DOE should engage in a legitimate rulemaking, in conjunction with HUD and the MHCC, which complies with all substantive and procedural requirements of applicable law. As MHARR has advised the White House Task Force on Manufactured Housing, it stands ready to participate in such a legitimate process, but will strenuously oppose any effort to implement the current corrupted proposed energy standard rule.
Very truly yours,
President and CEO
cc: Hon. Joseph R. Biden
Hon. Marcia Fudge
White House Manufactured Housing Task Force Members
Manufactured Housing Industry Producers, Retailers and Communities
Additional Information, More MHProNews Analysis and Commentary in Brief.
While it is not part of the MHARR statement, MHProNews notes that there are elements to what MHARR is alleging about DOE that are similar to concerns raised by James A. “Jim” Schmitz Jr with respect to HUD.
‘When Thurman Arnold was at DOJ, He, Colleagues Attempted to Protect Factory [Built] Housing Industry’ ‘Monopolies Sabotage, Destroy Markets’ – Prof Jim Schmitz to DOJ; plus Manufactured Home Equities
Link Where is the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) on these issues? Well, all indications are that they are where they were previously on the DOE energy rule. Namely, front-stabbing the industry with clever rationalizations.
It is difficult to understate how treacherous some federal officials, as well certain as MHI ‘leaders’, have been in this DOE energy process during the Biden era. To learn more, see the linked and related reports. Several follow below, and those routinely have cross links within each report to downloads and additional relevant information. ##
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.
Can Manufactured Housing Institute, Key MHI Firms Duck Accountability to Members, Shareholders, Stakeholders with Head-Fakes, Unkept Promises? Surprising Insights; plus, Sunday Weekly MH Headlines Review