Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Survive Congress

A new attack on the ban on incandescent light bulbs – the one that isn’t actually a ban – didn’t get very far. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), U.S. House Representative Todd Akin (R-Mo.) recently withdrew an amendment that would have denied funding for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs set to begin going into effect in 2012.

Akin’s amendment was to the continuing resolution needed to keep the government functioning. When he filed it, the NRDC issued a press release hitting the congressman for “clinging to 19th century technologies,” and called on Congress to “embrace a clean energy future that spurs innovation and creates jobs.”

energy efficient light bulbs

image via Osram Sylvania

The standards, passed in 2007 and signed into law by President George W. Bush, are often referred to as a ban on incandescent bulbs by Tea Party and other conservative activists who see them as an excessive government intrusion. But as the NRDC points out, no technologies are actually banned under the standards.

Instead, according to the DOE, the law requires that light bulbs use 30 percent less energy while producing the same light output. The standards hit 100-watt bulbs in 2012, 75-watt bulbs in 2013 and 40- and 60-watt bulbs in 2014, although California has moved ahead on the 100-watt bulb standard this year.

Earlier in this session of Congress, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would overturn the new standards, and argued his case in an opinion piece in USA Today.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.


  • Reply February 21, 2011


    setting standards that must be passed is the same as banning products that do not meet those standards

    Ordinary incandescents still differ in many respects from Halogen or other less energy using incandescent types

    All lights have their advantages, and even if there are electricity savings in any usage,
    citizens pay for the electricity they use:
    There is no energy shortage, including of future low emission electricity,
    that justifies a limitation on what citizens can use.
    Even if if there was a shortage of the finite
    coal/oil/gas sources, then their price rise limits their use anyway –
    without legislation.

    Moreover: light bulbs don’t give out any CO2 gas – power plants might.
    If there is an energy supply/emissions problem – deal with the problem!

    Why overall energy savings are not there anyway:
    with US Dept of Energy references = Under 1% overall energy savings
    from energy efficiency regulations on incandescent lights.

    The unpublicised industrial politics behind the ban, with
    documentation and copies of official communications:

    RE how energy efficiency regulations affect product characteristics see:

  • Reply February 28, 2011

    Eyesee You

    Regulating what light bulb technology Americans can have in their homes is NOT the business of government! Our political system is so corrupt, this BAN (and it is a ban folks) is simply our government (that is elected by the people) doing the bidding of those that stand to gain financially from the new law. We are supposed to be a free society, yet at every turn, government is stripping those freedoms. Illegal searching at airports, mandatory health insurance, mandatory vaccines, mandatory light bulbs. Where will it end? with Americans subjugated, dumbed down, herded and slaughtered like sheep. If we let this happen, we deserve it! Wake up!

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