Rasmussen Comments Submitted to DOE for Proposed Determination to Coverage

Rasmussen submitted the following comments to DOE (download PDF):

Comments were also submitted by HPBA , AHRI and others.

 

January 30, 2014

Ms. Brenda Edwards

U.S. Department of Energy

Building Technologies Program, Mailstop EE-2J

Proposed Determination for Hearth Products

EERE-2013-BT-DET-0057

1000 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, D.C. 20585-0121

 

Re: Proposed Determination of Coverage

Docket No. EERE-2013-BT-DET-0057

 

Dear Ms. Edwards:

 

Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc., also known as Rasmussen Gas Logs & Grills, is a five generation family business, founded in 1907. Rasmussen has been manufacturing gas log sets for installation into woodburning fireplaces since 1958. We make vented sets ranging from 12” to 96” set sizes, with a variety of burner, log and lighting control styles. We are one of the oldest manufacturers of vent-free gas log sets. We have served on numerous ANSI standard technical committees and are members of the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), Vent-free Gas Products Alliance (VFGPA), National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and American Society of Gas Engineers (ASGE).

 

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra “it’s like déjá vu all over again.” DOE is revisiting hearth products, an area in which DOE has already proved they know very little and for which this new rulemaking proves DOE has learned nothing more since its attempts to regulate them in 2010 and 2011. The hearth industry, made up mostly of small manufacturers, spent $2.7 million in legal fees to ultimately prevail at the DC Court of Appeals against DOE. While this may seem an insignificant sum to our behemoth federal government, this is a tremendous loss of resources that could have otherwise been better spent in creating jobs, training staff, purchasing equipment and improving product offerings that would have been of benefit to both the hearth industry and our national economy. Now we are faced with another ill-informed, but broader, attack on our industry by an adversary with unlimited resources yet abundant ignorance and supreme arrogance. My only hope in the survival of my 106 year-old, five generation family business is that truth and reason will win out over agendas driven by misinformation and a strident desire to regulate that which needs no regulation.

 

DOE states that this proposed determination sets no standards, but only positively determines that future standards may be warranted and should be explored in the future. Forgive me if I don’t share any comfort from this. This whole process is a big slippery slope that will do more harm than good. I foresee death by a thousand cuts, sapping my ability to focus on my business, expending funds to needlessly fight my government and protect my business, and limiting the products my company has been making for more than fifty years. This is all in the name of conserving natural gas, an energy source for which our country is in glut and finding increasingly more sources daily. Such a waste of finite resources, those being the expenditures of time and money by both government and private industry, should be avoided by DOE withdrawing this extremely flawed rulemaking.

 

Your definition of “Hearth Product” is a “kitchen sink” approach. DOE has lumped so many products together, but without naming many of them so as to be able to regulate products that DOE is not currently aware. There ought to be a law against this, if there isn’t already, and the non-specific nature of your definition yearns for this Proposed Determination to be placed immediately into the trash bin with other stupid government ideas.

 

DOE’s tentative determination “that the average input capacity of hearth products is 35,000 BTU/h” bespeaks a total lack of knowledge and understanding for not just the wide variety of type of hearth products available on the market, but also each one’s unique position in the marketplace. Put more simply, not all hearth products are created, or used, alike, and to lump them together into one category for regulation is as offensive as lumping all people into one category and treating them all the same because of the “average” IQ or weight or BMI. The DOE definition is too simplistic as a basis for any type of regulation, efficiency or performance standards.

 

For example, the vented gas log sets we make range in extreme sizes from 12” to 96” because of the extreme variety of sizes of woodburning fireplaces that consumers, hospitality, school and commercial properties have on their premises. Vented gas log sets are purchased as a convenient, clean burning and safe option to burning wood. Larger fireplaces will require more gas to provide a flame that approximates that of a wood fire. Conversely, small fireplaces require less gas to create an attractive look.

 

Vented gas log sets are not proper for coverage under any DOE regulation because their efficiency is dependent on the efficiency of the fireplace into which they are installed, a condition out of the control of the gas log manufacturer.

 

DOE states on Page 14 that they identified only 16 domestic, small manufacturers of hearth products. This is laughable and shows a serious flaw in DOE’s research and credibility. HPBA lists 28 manufacturers just of gas log sets, just about all of them employers of 500 or fewer workers. Add to this the whole kitchen sink of products DOE has identified, as well as those to be named later, and you have a significantly greater impact on people’s lives, livelihood, investments and future than DOE has identified with their shoddy, haphazard and shameful research.

 

I also take umbrage with DOE’s assertion on Page 15 that “the propose determination, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” DOE must have been laughing when they wrote this. The hearth industry is just about all small entities, but not just manufacturers. DOE has not taken into consideration the thousands of dealers across this whole country, all of them small businesses, most of them family businesses, that would be adversely affected by the change in products that DOE regulation would inevitably bring about. And there are also the suppliers, the installers, the transporters, and many more people that will be adversely affected by a stupid, ill thought out regulation or series of regulations.

 

DOE appears to be in violation of Executive Order 13563 signed by Pres. Obama on January 18, 2011. “Sec. 2. Public Participation” states “Regulations shall be adopted through a process that involves public participation.  To that end, regulations shall be based, to the extent feasible and consistent with law, on the open exchange of information and perspectives among State, local, and tribal officials, experts in relevant disciplines, affected stakeholders in the private sector, and the public as a whole.” It also states “Before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (emphasis added), each agency, where feasible and appropriate, shall seek the views of those who are likely to be affected, including those who are likely to benefit from and those who are potentially subject to such rulemaking.” However, there is absolutely no public documentation of any attempt by DOE to comply with this Executive Order by our current President:

 

1) The docket at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EERE-2013-BT-DET-0057 has no supporting documentation other than the DOE’s Pre-Publication Notice. Nothing at all was uploaded in support of DOE’s efforts to create this rulemaking.

 

2) I should be known to DOE as both an expert and affected stakeholder for this rulemaking. During Doe’s last rulemaking attempt, I submitted comments both in writing and in person at the DOE’s public meeting on September 1, 2011.  I created and run a website www.SaveGasLogs.com that documented the events of DOE’s last rulemaking. In a Google search of “gas log manufacturers”, my website is the #1 result. My company is a founding member of the HPBA, we are listed in their directory, and I am currently serving on its Board of Directors. Yet, neither I, nor any of my staff, have been contacted by DOE. Not at all! By the way, I was never consulted during the previous rulemaking, either. Why is DOE not performing proper due diligence required by the Executive Order?

 

3) Speaking of the Docket, the dates on which you published the Pre-Publication Notice (December 24, 2013, Christmas Eve) and the actual Proposed Determination (December 31, 2013, New Year’s Eve) could only have been selected by you to reduce the reaction time available to those who would be most affected by the rule, another clear violation of the intent of the Executive Order. DOE has attempted to rule the clock by strategic publishing, which implies nefarious intent and the creation of an adversarial relationship with the industry you wish to regulate. For shame!

DOE docket_013014

 

Speaking of due diligence, on Page 11 of the Proposed Determination, almost all of the citations for DOE’s justifications for coverage come from “Frequently Asked Questions” from a few obscure sources. Although the citation says they came from “manufacturing websites”, the truth is that all but one of the seven websites is from a manufacturer of hearth products (Heatilator). The others are a 1997 study conducted by the Gas Research Institute; a testing/listing agency; a consulting company; Natural Resources Canada, a website sponsored by the Government of Canada; a dealer from Pittsburgh, PA; a dealer from Burleson, TX; and a dealer in Kent, WA.  This is shoddy, misleading, incomplete and shameful “research”, and more of the same I came to expect from the last rulemaking by DOE. A .142 batting average would not keep you in anyone’s game, yet DOE is using this deplorable excuse for research as a basis for regulating an entire industry. Shame on DOE for perpetuating this low level of professionalism and for continuing to waste taxpayer money and time in a new attempt at rulemaking.

 

I hope and pray that DOE, or some other adult supervision, will withdraw this ill conceived, poorly researched rulemaking immediately before jobs and the economic interests of stakeholders are affected.

 

Sincerely,

RASMUSSEN IRON WORKS, INC.

 

Rett Rasmussen

Vice President

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900 btu

With the stroke of a pen, the US Department of Energy declared that (as of July 1, 2011), a gas log set must not consume more that 9000 BTU/hour to be termed "decorative". If it consumes more gas than that, it must meet efficiency ratings for which no testing methodogy exists. Watch this video where Rett Rasmussen illustrates the fallacy of 9000 BTU/Hour being "decorative."

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