WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration turned its deregulatory focus to light bulbs, scrapping a rule that would have phased out less energy efficient incandescent bulbs.
The move slows a years-long push by Congress and past administrations to switch Americans to LED bulbs and other lighting using less electricity.
President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday the Energy Department canceled the pending phaseout of the targeted incandescent bulbs because “what’s saved is not worth it.”
“And price was another thing,” he said.
The Energy Department announced the action ahead of the revision’s publication in the Federal Register, a step toward a rule becoming final.
The rule change “will ensure that the choice of how to light homes and businesses is left to the American people, not the federal government,” the Energy Department said in a statement.
The administration said the more efficient bulbs would cost consumers more to buy than they would save on their electric bills. Environmental groups challenged the claim.
“That’s going to cost taxpayers more money, make U.S. businesses less competitive, threaten jobs and innovation and set back our efforts to combat climate change,” the nonprofit Environmental Entrepeneurs advocacy group said.
The Trump administration has relaxed or proposed relaxing scores of environmental protections, saying it was targeting rules that burden businesses but do little to protect public health and habitat.
NEMA “welcomed” the decision, saying “The Final Rule acknowledges that a previous effort by DOE to define the scope of these lamps — to include in the definition light bulbs designed for special purposes that Congress unequivocally stated multiple times are not “general service” bulbs — misconstrued the statute and DOE could not legally justify that prior effort. The Final Rule will supersede the prior DOE rule. DOE further clarified in this Final Rule that States are preempted from regulating general service lamps meeting the statutory definition of general service lamp. General service lamps share a number of common attributes: they emit between 310 and 2600 lumens of omnidirectional light; they have a medium screw base; they are generally household lamps and serve domestic residential voltages; and, while the “bare” spiral compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is the exception, these lamps also possess a standard bulb shape, which consumers recognize as a “pear” shape bulb. In defining general service lamps, Congress specifically identified three types of light bulb technologies that share all these elements: general service incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LED lamps.”
Others reacted less favorably, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who during a live televised town hall meeting on climate change said if he is elected President next year, he will immediately change the Trump administration’s decision.
The American Council for An Energy-Efficient Economy also responded unfavorably to the decision, saying “eliminating the 2020 standards for all light bulbs would cost US consumers up to $14 billion annually, which works out to more than $100 in lost bill savings every year per household.”
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