Since the idea was first put forth last fall, we have been closely following the quest of U.S. Republicans to repeal the energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. Introduced by Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), the Better Use of Light Bulb (BULB) Act (HR 6144) would block parts of the 2007 energy law signed by George W. Bush that calls for phasing out the inefficient incandescent light bulb. In turn, the BULB Act would cost consumers more than $12.5 billion in energy costs annually. The bill is set to be voted on by the House of Representatives today.
The standards mandate that all light bulbs need to be 30 percent more efficient than the standard 100-watt incandescent. While many people (us included) have called the regulations an “incandescent ban,” the bill does not actually specify technologies. In fact, many companies have already started making incandescent bulbs that meet the efficiency requirements. The study, conducted by Appliance Standards Awareness Project for the NRDC, found that repealing the energy efficiency standards would cause a 7 percent or $85 increase in energy costs for the average household.
“Clearly, consumers, the economy and the environment will suffer if these standards are repealed,” said Jim Presswood, NRDC’s federal energy policy director. “It also will send the wrong signal to the lighting industry, which has already started making better bulbs.”
The energy efficiency standards, which don’t even take effect until January, would save money for every single state. Some states, like New York, California, and Texas, would see energy savings of more than $1 billion. The standards would also eliminate the need for 33 power plants, thus reducing air pollution.
Republicans have made some ridiculous comments in support of the BULB Act, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) even comparing energy efficiency standards to abortion rights. Paul said it was “appalling” and “hypocritical” for the Obama administration to “favor a woman’s right to an abortion but you don’t favor a woman or a man’s right to choose what kind of light bulb, what kind of dishwasher, what kind of washing machine.”
If Republicans succeed with the BULB Act, it would be a big step backwards for the United States in terms of energy efficiency. Plus it would raise costs for Americans and increase our country’s energy use. Here’s hoping that our more eco-minded politicians pull us through.