House Votes to Block Funds for Bulb Law
 

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has taken on the new light bulb energy efficiency requirements, which go into effect in 2012 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. According to the Los Angeles Times, the House passed a bill on July 15 to prevent the Department of Energy (DOE) from using funds to enforce the new requirements, following a failed attempt earlier that week to repeal the standards altogether.

The bill was authored by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, a Republican from the state of Texas, which recently enacted a law to sidestep the new regulations by saying that bulbs made and sold in Texas are not subject to federal control.

“If a manufacturer should choose to continue to make 100W bulbs, they would be permitted under this language, as there is clearly a market based on the thousands of consumers who have contacted Congress upset about their inability to buy 100W light bulbs,” Burgess said in a statement following the House vote. “This is about the consumer driving the market, not the federal government deciding the market.”

Larry Lauck, Vice President of the American Lighting Association (ALA), says ALA still supports the existing 2007 law, which he does not expect to change.

“It would be doubtful that the bill would get through the Senate and then signed by the president, so it’s business as usual as far as the industry is concerned,” Lauck says. “The law is the law and will remain the law, and the industry is in support of the EISA 2007 law.”

Lauck went on to say that the new bill would be a step backward for the industry.

“Any industry isn’t going to go backward. They’re always trying to move forward,” Lauck says. “That would be like telling the auto industry to drop fuel efficiency requirements back to 1985 levels. It’s just not something you see.”

Lauck also says it would be dangerous to let other states follow Texas’ lead and create their own versions of the new energy efficiency rules.

“Manufacturers are moving on and supporting the existing law, and the one thing we would not want to happen is individual states to have the ability to enact their own energy efficiency legislation,” Lauck says. “That would be a problem for manufacturers, in forcing production costs to rise and therefore raising costs for consumers.”

Energy Secretary Steven Chu also defended the existing standards in a conference call with reporters, according to The Hill’s Energy and Environment blog, saying the 2007 law does not ban incandescent bulbs.

“You’re still going to be able to buy halogen incandescent bulbs,” Chu said. “They’ll look exactly like the ones you’re used to. They can dim. They cut out instantly. They look and feel the same. The only difference is they will help American consumers save money.”

Saving money by saving energy is also the focus of a new DOE consumer education campaign that was launched just days after the House bill was passed. The campaign includes a television advertisement showing a turkey being cooked by incandescent light bulbs as a narrator says “Switch to Energy Star® light bulbs and you’ll realize just how much cash you’re really burning through.” Other print advertisements use taglines such as “Save energy, save movie night,” and “Save energy, save vacation.” For more on the campaign, visit the Energy Savers website.

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