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After Persistent MHARR Push-Back, DOE Proposed Manufactured Housing Energy Rule Deemed “Inactive”

MHARRWashington, D.C., December 18, 2017 – The proposed rule to implement manufactured housing “energy” standards, published by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on June 17, 2016 and consistently opposed by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in every phase of its development – the only national manufactured housing industry trade organization to do so – has been downgraded to the status of an “inactive” rulemaking in the latest update of the Federal Semiannual Regulatory Agenda (SRA), released on December 14, 2017.

The proposed rule, which emerged from a tainted, illegitimate and scandalous “negotiated” rulemaking process at DOE, and would have added $6,000.00 or more to the retail cost of a new double-section HUD Code manufactured home, was initially downgraded to a “long-term” regulatory action by the Trump Administration in the Spring 2017 SRA, meaning that a final rule would not be published for at least 12 months following the publication of that SRA. Its re-designation now, to “inactive” status, means, at a minimum, that the rulemaking has been removed from any active development or timeframe and could indicate that the proposed rule will ultimately be withdrawn by DOE in its current form.

MHARR has been a vocal and consistent opponent of the DOE proposed “energy” rule, casting the only “no” vote against that proposal (supported in the Working Group by the Manufactured Housing Institute) as a member of the DOE Manufactured Housing Working Group. MHARR later submitted comprehensive 35-page written comments opposing the proposed rule, which extensively detailed not only its extreme cost and expected devastating impact on the manufactured housing industry and American consumers of affordable housing – likely eliminating millions of Americans from the manufactured housing market and from home ownership altogether -- but also the scandalous process at DOE that led to its development and DOE’s failure to fully-quantify the expected costs of the rule by omitting anticipated testing, inspection and enforcement expenses.

MHARR also encouraged the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to submit comments on the proposed rule, which it did, joining with MHARR in highlighting its extremely negative implications for the smaller businesses that comprise the traditional core of the manufactured housing industry.  Highly critical opposition comments – citing MHARR in part -- were also filed by the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center.

Following the conclusion of the official regulatory comment period on the proposed rule, MHARR submitted additional written comments calling for its rejection and/or retraction based on: (1) the Trump Administration’s official disavowal and rejection of the Obama Administration’s “Social Cost of Carbon” (SCC) construct, which was used to inflate the alleged “benefits” of the proposed rule; (2) the Trump Administration’s disavowal of the “Paris Climate Accord,” which formed part of the policy basis for the proposed rule; and (3) the regulatory reform mandates set forth in Trump Administration Executive Orders (EO) 13771 and 13777.

While not conclusive yet, the successive designation of the proposed “energy” rule as a “long term action” and now an “inactive” proceeding could indicate that the new Trump Administration leadership at DOE is cognizant of the many fatal substantive and procedural flaws inherent in the June 17, 2016 proposed rule, and will not proceed to finalize that rule as currently constituted.

In Washington, D.C., MHARR President and CEO Mark Weiss stated: “The DOE proposed manufactured housing energy rule was and is a paradigm example of destructive government regulatory overreach in the service of an ideological agenda rather than the people who the federal government was elected to serve. Indeed, as the Trump Administration seems to realize, this outrageous one-size-fits-all mandate would eliminate all of the known, recognized and significant benefits of home-ownership for millions of Americans who would be priced out of the market for the nation’s most affordable homeownership resource by this needless and destructive rule.  Having gone this far, the Trump Administration should officially disavow this proposed rule and allow consumers the freedom of choice that results from free markets and robust competition.”

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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