Environmentalists across the nation can breathe a sign of relief. On Tuesday evening, the House of Representatives rejected the Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act, a bill designed to repeal light bulb efficiency standards. The BULB act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and supported by many Republicans, failed to reach the required two – thirds majority in the House, with the final vote at 233-193. If passed, the bill would have cost Americans $12.5 billion in energy savings.
“This vote is a victory for consumers, businesses, the environment and our health,” said Scott Slesinger Legislative Affairs Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It’s also an encouraging sign that the House is able to differentiate between facts and the misinformation that has spread widely and irresponsibly on this issue.”
The BULB act was mostly supported by Republicans, including high profile conservative leaders like Michele Bachmann, shock jock radio personality Rush Limbaugh, and Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who also co-sponsored the bill. The House, and most Democrat members of Congress bashed the legislation, which would have repealed a 2007 energy law requiring that incandescent bulbs be 30 percent more energy-efficient beginning in 2012.
Conservatives cited out of control regulations and government overreach as the main reason for introducing the BULB act. Conservatives claim that the current incandescent “light bulb ban” would force consumers to buy more expensive bulbs, and in turn, interfere with personal liberties.
The light bulb efficiency standards haven’t always been controversial. Back in 2007, they won significant bipartisan support, and were signed into law by President George W. Bush as part his overall green energy policy. The current House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who helped craft the language for the 2007 bill is also now opposing his original legislation.
“It was never my goal for Washington to decide what type of light bulbs Americans should use,” Upton said in a report by The Hill. “The public response on this issue is a clear signal that markets — not governments — should be driving technological advancements.”
The new standards, however, don’t ban incandescent bulbs. Instead, they promote benchmarks to develop more energy efficient bulbs, including green incandescent bulbs. The NRDC has also stated that making the switch to more energy efficient bulbs would drive down energy costs, “reduced by an average of 7 percent, or about $85 per household per year.” The country would save more than $12.5 billion a year by 2020, once the new regulations are implemented.
Although it is alarming that some politicians are not taking energy efficiency seriously, at least for now, the repeal of the BULB Act is a huge victory for environmentalists and green advocacy groups.