May. 30, 2024

Opposing Harmful Energy Regulations

Though few people give it much thought, there is an important difference between a law and a regulation.

For example, Pennsylvania driver’s licenses are mostly blue and gold, and after a quick scroll through our laws regarding PennDOT’s operations, those colors are not required by law. Through regulation, officials at PennDOT could change the design.

On another note, officials cannot change the current driving age qualifications, which are prescribed in law. Doing so would require legislation to be passed by the General Assembly and considered by the governor.

Sometimes government departments are given too much regulatory leeway however, and the result can be burdensome, even dangerous policies.

This is the only way to describe House Bill 1615, a proposal granting power to regulate energy standards on several appliances used in Pennsylvania homes and business to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), an arm of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 

In residences, the current draft of House Bill 1615 would apply to items such as sink and bathroom faucets, ventilation fans, showerheads, gas fireplaces and water coolers. But also concerning is that the proposal would apply to commercial dishwashers, hot-food cabinets, steam cookers, ovens and fryers.

Once in effect, it would be illegal to sell, lease or install such equipment in Pennsylvania unless it meets the EQB’s standards, who would be authorized to inspect distributors and retailers. 

That is not the only concern with how poorly House Bill 1615 is drafted.

The first offense is to be a warning, followed by a $100 fine. Further offenses could be up to $500 per instance and per customer. The bill is also silent on whether a fine could be levied on one entity, twice. For example, could a retailer who also installed a new natural gas fireplace at a private residence be fined twice for the same project?

When states set regulations impacting the usage of specific products, national and international manufacturers are left to determine how to comply with that state’s individual regulations. Imagine a well-known brand of appliances having to create two versions of the same product, one for availability in the Commonwealth and one for other states. Costs for appliances are likely to increase and availability to be impacted.

What may be the most troubling part of the proposal is the portion that allows the EQB to set new efficiency standards that they believe will “promote energy or water conservation.”

The EQB is a 20-member board, only four of which are elected members of the General Assembly.  Eleven are heads of state agencies and five are citizens selected by the existing board. These decisions have too deep an impact to be made by unelected individuals whom you do not have the ability to contact to communicate your concerns. 

This is precisely why legislators need to be very careful in considering how much regulatory power a state department has.

House Bill 1615 was recently passed by the House 102-99 and can be considered by the Senate.

Here are some additional news topics and reminders I would like to share.

Do You Have Unclaimed Property? - You may soon see a newspaper advertisement by the Pennsylvania Treasury encouraging you to check if you have unclaimed property. It is estimated that about one in 10 Pennsylvanians is owed some of the more than $4.5 billion in unclaimed property held by the Treasury. The average value of a claim is $1,500.

Under Pennsylvania law, unclaimed property is turned over to Treasury after three years of dormancy. Included are things like dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, forgotten stocks and bonds, insurance policies and contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes. The law also requires the Treasury to routinely advertise in hopes of connecting with more Pennsylvanians.

To check if there is unclaimed property in your name, visit the Pennsylvania Treasury website, My office has helped hundreds of constituents through the process, including filing the appropriate paperwork to have it sent to them. You do not need to pay anyone to recover the property that belongs to you. If you would like to speak with us about the process, feel free to contact my Washington Township/Export office at 724-387-9113 or my New Kensington office at 724-472-4102.

House Fellowship Program Taking Applications - The Pennsylvania House Legislative Fellowship Program is accepting applications for its fall 2024 semester. The 13-week program is based at Pennsylvania’s Capitol in Harrisburg where fellows are placed in committee chair and House leadership offices.

Qualified applicants must be: 

   • College undergraduate juniors and seniors, graduate students or law school students.
   • Enrolled in a Pennsylvania college/university or a Pennsylvania resident enrolled in an out-of-state institution.
   • Students of any major with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

For more information or to apply, visit Applications can be submitted via email to The deadline to apply is July 1.

Representative Jill Cooper
55th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jordan Frei
724-875-8450 /