RV Pro reported on 12.3.2021 that “New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas has joined several states in urging the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to adopt cost-effective energy efficiency standards for manufactured houses (commonly known as mobile homes). In a letter submitted in response to an August 2021 DOE proposal, the states, along with local government officials, request that DOE apply minimum energy standards across the board, including to the lowest priced homes. DOE has proposed two potential approaches – uniform minimum standards for all models, or a “tiered” approach that would apply less stringent standards for units below a certain price threshold.”
MHProNews has made some inquiries to see what, if anything, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and/or by their state association affiliates have done to respond to the concerns raised by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform.
The first item that follows is the press release from Attorney General Hector Balderas on behalf of the State of New Mexico. It says his state has joined the City of New York City and 9 other state attorneys general (AGs) in their effort to influence the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the pending manufactured housing energy standards.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 1, 2021
Contact: Jerri Mares — (505) 321-4372
AG Balderas Joins States in Urging the U.S. Department of Energy to Adopt Energy Efficiency Standards for Manufactured Houses
Santa Fe, NM – Attorney General Hector Balderas has joined several states in urging the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to adopt cost-effective energy efficiency standards for manufactured houses (commonly known as mobile homes). In a letter submitted in response to an August 2021 DOE proposal, the states, along with local government officials, request that DOE apply minimum energy standards across the board, including to the lowest priced homes. DOE has proposed two potential approaches – uniform minimum standards for all models, or a “tiered” approach that would apply less stringent standards for units below a certain price threshold.
“Living in low income housing and mobile homes throughout my childhood in Wagon Mound, I have felt the burden of unpredictable energy costs,” said Attorney General Balderas. “New Mexico has twice the national average of manufactured homes and while they are an affordable housing option for many New Mexicans, higher energy costs should not be imposed on Consumers trapping them in a cycle of debt.”
The proposed rules are in response to a Congressional mandate in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Manufactured housing accounts for about six percent of all homes in the United States. Because the average energy cost per square foot of a manufactured home is 70% higher than a site-built home, applying energy efficiency standards to them would save households billions of dollars in energy costs, while reducing the carbon footprint of this important sector of the affordable housing market. The standards imposed by the rule will vary according to climate zone.
The comments also point to evidence in analyses performed by DOE and by affordable housing experts showing that manufactured houses will remain affordable for the lowest income buyers under a non-tiered rule. This is due in part to the availability of federal and state tax incentives and loan assistance to these buyers, and in part to the fact that homes are typically owned for longer than the period required for energy cost savings to exceed the increase in purchase price, which is a little more than 10 years on average.
A copy of the letter is attached. ##
In response to that letter, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) sent the following to 10 Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) state affiliates.
DECEMBER 9, 2021
TO: FRANK BOWMAN, ILLINOIS (IMHA)
RICHARD BRADSTREET, MAINE (MHAM)
MELISSA CARON, MASSACHUSETTES (MMHA)
MARK BRUNNER, MINNESOTA (MMHA)
MICHAEL SMITH, NEVADA (NHA)
MARY BETH PARK, NEW JERSEY (NJMHA)
MARK DURAN, NEW MEXICO (NMMHA)
ROBERT CAPENOS, NEW YORK (NYHA)
GENOA INGRAM, OREGON (OMHA)
JOAN BROWN, WASHINGTON (NHA)
FROM: MARK WEISS
RE: STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL SUBMIT MISLEADING AND HARM-
FUL COMMENTS SUPPORTING DESTRUCTIVE DOE ENERGY RULE
Attached for your review, information and follow-up is a copy of a December 1, 2021 News Release and attached comments filed by eleven state attorneys general (AG Comments) supporting the destructive proposed manufactured housing “energy standards” rule published by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on August 26, 2021. The group which filed these comments, includes the attorney general for your respective states.
MHARR is sharing this information with you because the AG Comments, relying on and repeating false, deceptive, harmful and misleading “data” and arguments advanced by “energy” and “climate change” special interests, support DOE’s effort to impose crippling “energy” rules that would devastate the industry, both in your state and nationally, and would exclude millions of lower and moderate-income Americans from all of the benefits of homeownership through non-subsidized, affordable manufactured housing.
While any interested member of the public, under federal law, is entitled to submit comments in a rulemaking proceeding by a federal agency such as DOE, representatives of state governments in particular should be especially careful about the truth and accuracy of the information that they cite, as well as the validity and legitimacy of the arguments and positions they assert.
Accordingly, you may wish to communicate (or visit) with your state attorney general regarding this matter to educate and inform them of the very real damage that this proposed rule – if adopted by DOE as they seek – would do to the industry in your state, but even more so, the lower and moderate-income consumers who rely on the purchase-price affordability of HUD Code manufactured housing to become homeowners and access the tangible and significant benefits of homeownership. Indeed, given the weight that comments submitted by state attorneys general would likely receive in the DOE rulemaking process, it is imperative that this attack on the industry and its consumers not go unanswered.
To assist you in this regard, MHARR has analyzed the attorney generals’ comments and has summarized below the most egregious and fundamentally-flawed arguments (and information) they seek to advance in support of the baseless DOE proposed rule, together with cross-references to relevant sections of MHARR’s October 25, 2021 comments (also attached hereto) opposing the DOE proposed rule, which refute and debunk the same arguments or assertions.
Among other things, the attorney generals’ DOE comments:
- Support the imposition of extremely costly energy mandates on all manufactured homes (including mandates that go beyond the currently-proposed DOE standard) regardless of purchase price impact (see, AG Comments at pp. 5-6; see, MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 7-12);
- Support the imposition of extreme “energy” standards on mainstream manufactured homes that exceed in cost and stringency anystandards currently imposed on much higher-cost site-built homes (see, AG Comments at pp. 4-6; see MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 14-18);
- Like allother supporters of the DOE proposed rule, either ignore or summarily dismiss the extreme purchase price impact that the DOE proposed standards would have on mainstream manufactured homes and potential purchasers (see, AG Comments at pp. 2-6; see, MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 7-12);
- Like all other supporters of the DOE proposed rule, stress speculative “life-cycle” energy cost savings supposedly resulting from the proposed rule, while ignoring or summarily dismissing the extreme purchase price impact that DOE proposed energy standards would have on mainstream manufactured homes (see, AG Comments at pp. 2-6; see, MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 7-12). As noted in Point 5, below, there is no “life-cycle” for a buyer excluded from the market entirely by regulatory-driven purchase price increases.
- Like all other supporters of the DOE proposed rule, ignore the fact that for those potential homebuyers priced out of the HUD Code market by the proposed rule, there cannot be and will not be any “life-cycle” or “life-cycle savings” at all, because they will not be homeowners (see, AG Comments at pp. 2-6; see, MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 7-12);
- Ignore the likely exclusion of millions of lower-income Americans from the mainstream manufactured housing market as a result of massive purchase price increases associated with the DOE proposed standard (see, AG Comments at p. 5; see, MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 9-12);
- Misrepresent energy costs paid by actual manufactured housing residents by using “cost-per-square-foot” figures rather than U.S. Census Bureau whole-home cost figures which show that manufactured housing residents pay lower monthly energy costs for all fuel types than site-built housing residents (see, AG Comments at pp. 1-2; see, MHARR October 25, 2021 Comments at pp. 5-7);
- Falsely claim that “a tighter building envelope” under the DOE proposed standard would eliminate drafts and help “prevent problems such as condensation and mold that can … contribute to illness” when, in fact, the reality is just the opposite (see, AG Comments p. 5, emphasis added); and
- Cites supposed information in support of the DOE proposed rule from the “Next Step” organization that is directly contradicted by data developed by MHARR, the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) and Home Innovation Research Labs (HIRL), the MHCC Administering Organization (see, AG Comments at p. 5).
While most of these baseless claims are addressed and refuted in detail in MHARR’s October 25, 2021 DOE comments, the above list is designed to help make your interaction with your state’s Attorney General as simple and straightforward as possible.
As is noted above, given the potentially disastrous impact of the DOE proposed rule for both the industry and potential homebuyers, the content of the Attorney General comment letter cannot be left without a decisive industry response. And that response is best provided by industry representatives within each of these respective states who would be in the best position to address the negative impacts on the industry, jobs, and the availability of affordable homeownership in each such state that would flow from the DOE proposed rule and the attorney generals’ support for that rule in each of these states.
In addition, given the importance of this matter, by copy of this communication, we are advising our other state association colleagues (as well as industry members) of this situation, and urging them to monitor and be watchful of other similar communications between state officials and DOE, to preempt any similar effort at disinformation/misinformation.
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this matter, or need any additional information to assist your efforts.
President and CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
Tel. (202) 783-4087
Fax: (202) 783-4075
cc: Other HUD Code Industry State Association Executives
HUD Code Manufactured Housing Industry Members
Additional Information, more MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
An informed source with significant ties to several MHI member brands told MHProNews the following on 12.7.2021:
“I’m attaching a copy of a comment letter supposedly filed in the DOE energy rulemaking docket on behalf of a group of Democrat state attorneys general (and the City of New York). I say supposedly because I found this by doing a google search. As of yesterday, it was not posted on the DOE regulations.gov docket of comments received on the proposed energy rule.
This is potentially quite important, as input from Democrat AGs to a Democrat-run DOE will carry a lot of weight.
There’s a lot of outrageous garbage in here (as well as stuff that they ignore)…What I want to point out for your [MHProNews] interest…is their direct reliance on the comments filed in this docket by Next Step. …”
Next Step is an MHI member, as MHProNews has previously pointed out. Next Step and others were part of an effort some years ago to advance the energy rule that MHI now claims that they oppose.
Per the same source above about Next Step, they are “the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in direct grants from Clayton and MHI (as well as, I believe, Fanny and Freddie). They also cite Next Step as a member of the MHCC, to bolster its (and their) credibility (see p. 5).”
That same source concluded their tip with the following. “So, Clayton and MHI oppose the rule in their own comments and PR but have funded a supposed “consumer” organization that is pushing for thousands of dollars in extra costs that will exclude hundreds of thousands of the poorest buyers out of the market — quite interesting.”
MHProNews was unaware at the time of that tip of this prior to the filing of DOE comments and prior to the report linked below. That said, the source’s news tip quoted above fits the facts that MHProNews has previously advanced solo among rival manufactured housing trade media. RV Pro, recognizing that numbers of people are buying RVs that might have bought a HUD Code manufactured home published on this. But at this time, there is no known evidence that MHI has addressed this issue.
MHProNews will continue to monitor and report on this topic as deemed prudent based upon new developments. ##
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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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