MHARR Expresses Dismay Over Energy Case – Warning and FOIA Follow

MHARR Expresses Dismay Over Energy Case – Warning and FOIA Follow

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February 5, 2020

VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
Hon. Dan Brouilette
Secretary U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585

                                    Re: Manufactured Housing Energy Regulation

Dear Secretary Brouilette:

We are dismayed and shocked to have learned recently that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has entered into a consent decree in litigation styled Sierra Club v. Perry (D.D.C. 1:17-CV-02700, November 21, 2019) (Attachment 1, hereto) that will require DOE to propose inherently discriminatory manufactured housing “energy conservation” standards by May 14, 2021 and enact final standards pursuant to that rulemaking on or before February 14, 2022.

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) as the national representative of smaller and medium-sized independent producers of manufactured housing regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pursuant to the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 5401, et seq.), has been a longstanding and vociferous opponent of the enactment of any such standards outside of the regulatory framework established by those statutes, which are designed and structured to maintain, protect and advance the inherent affordability of manufactured homes for lower and moderate-income Americans. MHARR’s position on this matter – and its vehement objections to the imposition of DOE energy standards that would undermine the fundamental affordability of HUD Code manufactured housing as mandated by existing law and needlessly exclude millions of Americans from the only type of homeownership that they can afford — is set forth in comments filed with DOE on August 8, 2016, April 26, 2017 and September 17, 2018.

In addition, MHARR, in comments filed with DOE pursuant to President Trump’s Executive Order 13777 (Attachment 2, hereto) and with the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing (Attachment 3, hereto), has called for the explicit rejection of any such standards as being inherently and fundamentally incompatible with the pre-existing directive of Congress in the 1974 federal manufactured housing law, as amended, for federal manufactured housing standards to “facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes and to increase homeownership for all Americans.”

Instead, as MHARR’s comments have consistently shown, previously-proposed DOE manufactured housing “energy” standards (i.e., 2016 and 2018) – railroaded from the start via a fundamentally-flawed and corrupted process manipulated by energy special interests and the largest manufactured housing industry conglomerates — would necessarily, excessively and exponentially increase the cost of manufactured housing with little or no countervailing benefit to consumers over the typical ownership tenure of a HUD Code manufactured home, while excluding disproportionate numbers of potential consumers from the market and imposing crushing new regulatory compliance burdens on smaller industry businesses. 

Consequently, we are mystified and, frankly, appalled that DOE, during the administration of President Trump, who from day-one has committed his administration to the reduction and elimination of needless and needlessly-costly federal regulatory burdens both generally (through Executive Orders 13771/13777) and specifically in relation to housing affordability (through Executive Order 13878 and the White House Council – which includes DOE) would: (1) enter into such a consent decree with an anti-business, radical, special interest group such as Sierra Club in the first place; (2) enter into such a consent decree without correcting, or even considering the inherently-flawed process which fundamentally infected this entire proceeding; or (3) enter into such a consent decree without even speaking with MHARR, representing smaller businesses, which are uniquely impacted, harmed and threatened by excessive regulatory mandates. At an absolute minimum, then, DOE must scrap all of its previous process on this matter, go back to the “drawing board,” and conduct a legitimate, credible, and valid rulemaking to totally replace its irretrievably-tainted and illegitimate previous activity in this matter.

The collusive manipulation and abuse of consent decrees by special interests and federal regulators to impose massive new regulatory burdens was a reprehensible and unethical hallmark of the Obama Administration. That it would now be deployed by DOE in this matter, during the Trump Administration is utterly indefensible and unacceptable.

Given these circumstances, we will contact your office to schedule a meeting to further address this pending travesty.       

Sincerely, Mark Weiss
President and CEO
cc:   Hon. Mick Mulvaney
Mr. Paul Ray (OIRA)

February 6, 2020

VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
FOIA Requester Service Center
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Mail Stop MA-90
Washington, D.C. 20585

Re:  Freedom of Information Act Request

Dear Sir or Madam:

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (“MHARR”) hereby requests, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 (“FOIA”), that copies of the following documents relating to actions by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in connection with Sierra Club v. Perry, (D.D.C. 1:17-CV-02700) be provided to us:

  1. Minutes, notes, memoranda, or documents of any kind regarding or reflecting the substance of any meeting(s) between DOE or U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) personnel and Sierra Club personnel, members, agents, attorneys, or other representatives regarding the above-referenced litigation, including, but not limited to meetings on April 23, 2019, May 22, 2019, June 12, 2019 and August 15, 2019, as referenced by Attachment 1 hereto.
  1. Minutes, notes, memoranda, or documents of any kind reflecting the identity of all participants in each of the meetings referenced in Request No. 1, above and any other meeting(s) or communications addressing the same matter.
  1. All documents or communications of any kind received from Sierra Club, its personnel, members, agents, attorneys, or any other representative in connection with any of the meetings referenced in Request No. 1, above and any other meeting(s) or communications addressing the same matter.
  1. All documents or communications of any kind received from any person or entity other than Sierra Club or its representatives in connection with any of the meetings referenced in Request No. 1, above, and any other meeting(s) or communications addressing the same matter.
  1. All documents or communications of any kind received from any person or entity other than Sierra Club in connection with either the resolution of the above-referenced litigation, or the negotiation or substance of the Consent Decree entered in that litigation on November 21, 2019 (See, Attachment 2, hereto).
  1. All documents relating to the development and/or negotiation of the Consent Decree referenced in Request No. 5, above.
  1. All documents reflecting the identity of any DOE and/or DOJ officials who reviewed and/or commented on the Consent Decree referenced in Request No. 5, above, and/or approved the said Consent Decree.
  1. All documents of any kind relating to the above-referenced litigation and/or the Consent Decree referenced in Request No. 5, above.
  1. All documents reflecting or relating to the rulemaking status of DOE manufactured housing energy standards pursuant to section 413 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)

The term “document,” as used herein, includes records of electronic communications and both written and electronic records of telephonic communications and includes all drafts or versions of the identified document(s).

The document(s) requested herein are sought in the public interest concerning the operation and activities of DOE and not primarily for any commercial interest of the requester.

If all or part of this request is denied, please cite each specific FOIA exemption which you contend justifies the said denial and advise us accordingly.

If you have any questions about processing this request, you may contact me during business hours at (202) 783-4087.

Thank you in advance for your assistance

Sincerely, Mark Weiss
President and CEO

February 5, 2020

VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
Hon. Dan Brouilette
Secretary U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585

                                    Re: Manufactured Housing Energy Regulation

Dear Secretary Brouilette:

We are dismayed and shocked to have learned recently that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has entered into a consent decree in litigation styled Sierra Club v. Perry (D.D.C. 1:17-CV-02700, November 21, 2019) (Attachment 1, hereto) that will require DOE to propose inherently discriminatory manufactured housing “energy conservation” standards by May 14, 2021 and enact final standards pursuant to that rulemaking on or before February 14, 2022.

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) as the national representative of smaller and medium-sized independent producers of manufactured housing regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pursuant to the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 5401, et seq.), has been a longstanding and vociferous opponent of the enactment of any such standards outside of the regulatory framework established by those statutes, which are designed and structured to maintain, protect and advance the inherent affordability of manufactured homes for lower and moderate-income Americans. MHARR’s position on this matter – and its vehement objections to the imposition of DOE energy standards that would undermine the fundamental affordability of HUD Code manufactured housing as mandated by existing law and needlessly exclude millions of Americans from the only type of homeownership that they can afford — is set forth in comments filed with DOE on August 8, 2016, April 26, 2017 and September 17, 2018.

In addition, MHARR, in comments filed with DOE pursuant to President Trump’s Executive Order 13777 (Attachment 2, hereto) and with the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing (Attachment 3, hereto), has called for the explicit rejection of any such standards as being inherently and fundamentally incompatible with the pre-existing directive of Congress in the 1974 federal manufactured housing law, as amended, for federal manufactured housing standards to “facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes and to increase homeownership for all Americans.”

Instead, as MHARR’s comments have consistently shown, previously-proposed DOE manufactured housing “energy” standards (i.e., 2016 and 2018) – railroaded from the start via a fundamentally-flawed and corrupted process manipulated by energy special interests and the largest manufactured housing industry conglomerates — would necessarily, excessively and exponentially increase the cost of manufactured housing with little or no countervailing benefit to consumers over the typical ownership tenure of a HUD Code manufactured home, while excluding disproportionate numbers of potential consumers from the market and imposing crushing new regulatory compliance burdens on smaller industry businesses. 

Consequently, we are mystified and, frankly, appalled that DOE, during the administration of President Trump, who from day-one has committed his administration to the reduction and elimination of needless and needlessly-costly federal regulatory burdens both generally (through Executive Orders 13771/13777) and specifically in relation to housing affordability (through Executive Order 13878 and the White House Council – which includes DOE) would: (1) enter into such a consent decree with an anti-business, radical, special interest group such as Sierra Club in the first place; (2) enter into such a consent decree without correcting, or even considering the inherently-flawed process which fundamentally infected this entire proceeding; or (3) enter into such a consent decree without even speaking with MHARR, representing smaller businesses, which are uniquely impacted, harmed and threatened by excessive regulatory mandates. At an absolute minimum, then, DOE must scrap all of its previous process on this matter, go back to the “drawing board,” and conduct a legitimate, credible, and valid rulemaking to totally replace its irretrievably-tainted and illegitimate previous activity in this matter.

The collusive manipulation and abuse of consent decrees by special interests and federal regulators to impose massive new regulatory burdens was a reprehensible and unethical hallmark of the Obama Administration. That it would now be deployed by DOE in this matter, during the Trump Administration is utterly indefensible and unacceptable.

Given these circumstances, we will contact your office to schedule a meeting to further address this pending travesty.       

Sincerely, Mark Weiss
President and CEO
cc:   Hon. Mick Mulvaney
Mr. Paul Ray (OIRA)

February 6, 2020

VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
FOIA Requester Service Center
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Mail Stop MA-90
Washington, D.C. 20585

Re:  Freedom of Information Act Request

Dear Sir or Madam:

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (“MHARR”) hereby requests, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 (“FOIA”), that copies of the following documents relating to actions by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in connection with Sierra Club v. Perry, (D.D.C. 1:17-CV-02700) be provided to us:

  1. Minutes, notes, memoranda, or documents of any kind regarding or reflecting the substance of any meeting(s) between DOE or U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) personnel and Sierra Club personnel, members, agents, attorneys, or other representatives regarding the above-referenced litigation, including, but not limited to meetings on April 23, 2019, May 22, 2019, June 12, 2019 and August 15, 2019, as referenced by Attachment 1 hereto.
  1. Minutes, notes, memoranda, or documents of any kind reflecting the identity of all participants in each of the meetings referenced in Request No. 1, above and any other meeting(s) or communications addressing the same matter.
  1. All documents or communications of any kind received from Sierra Club, its personnel, members, agents, attorneys, or any other representative in connection with any of the meetings referenced in Request No. 1, above and any other meeting(s) or communications addressing the same matter.
  1. All documents or communications of any kind received from any person or entity other than Sierra Club or its representatives in connection with any of the meetings referenced in Request No. 1, above, and any other meeting(s) or communications addressing the same matter.
  1. All documents or communications of any kind received from any person or entity other than Sierra Club in connection with either the resolution of the above-referenced litigation, or the negotiation or substance of the Consent Decree entered in that litigation on November 21, 2019 (See, Attachment 2, hereto).
  1. All documents relating to the development and/or negotiation of the Consent Decree referenced in Request No. 5, above.
  1. All documents reflecting the identity of any DOE and/or DOJ officials who reviewed and/or commented on the Consent Decree referenced in Request No. 5, above, and/or approved the said Consent Decree.
  1. All documents of any kind relating to the above-referenced litigation and/or the Consent Decree referenced in Request No. 5, above.
  1. All documents reflecting or relating to the rulemaking status of DOE manufactured housing energy standards pursuant to section 413 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)

The term “document,” as used herein, includes records of electronic communications and both written and electronic records of telephonic communications and includes all drafts or versions of the identified document(s).

The document(s) requested herein are sought in the public interest concerning the operation and activities of DOE and not primarily for any commercial interest of the requester.

If all or part of this request is denied, please cite each specific FOIA exemption which you contend justifies the said denial and advise us accordingly.

If you have any questions about processing this request, you may contact me during business hours at (202) 783-4087.

Thank you in advance for your assistance

Sincerely, Mark Weiss
President and CEO

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