Tucked inside the massive 1,200-page spending bill that’s currently sitting on President Obama’s desk is an agreement that overturns part of the incandescent light bulb ban. The agreement could seriously slow the switch to more energy-efficient lighting. The provision, which Republicans have fought tooth and nail for, stops the Obama administration from spending any money to carry out the new rules, which mandate that all light bulbs use at least 25 percent less energy, effectively eliminating the 100-watt incandescent. The laws were approved with bipartisan support and signed by George W. Bush in 2007.

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The agreement in the spending bill delays the enforcement of the lighting efficiency laws less than a year, but Republicans, including Rep. Joe Barton, have promised to keep fighting for a full ban on the rules. “This is an early Christmas present for all Americans. It restores the freedom, at least temporarily, for you to choose the light bulbs you want to illuminate your home,” Barton, R-Texas, said in a statement after the House voted last Friday, December 16.

The new lighting rules are expected to save Americans billions of dollars in their energy bills, but Republicans have made stopping the incandescent phase-out a priority. The energy efficiency standards have already been largely accepted by the lighting industry. Philips and GE are just a couple of companies that have created new bulbs, and others, like Lutron and even Google, are designing new technologies specifically for more energy-efficient light bulbs.

“American manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in transitioning to energy efficient lighting,” says Joseph Higbee, spokesman of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, to USA Today. “Delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty.”

Industry experts believe that even if Republican succeed in eliminating the lighting standards, a switch to more energy efficient lighting is still underway. “The market is gradually moving in this direction,” says David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Lead image © Jeff Kubina via Creative Commons