Efficient Light Bulb Fixation Continues In Congress Unabated

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council. Author credit goes to Christina Angelides.

The public strongly supports energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that were passed with bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 and went into effect this year. As poll after poll shows, and many homeowners and businesses have reported, Americans like the standards and are already using better-performing, more energy-efficient light bulbs.  So why are some in Congress still trying to turn out the lights on these standards?

Yesterday, House Republicans passed two dim amendments to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 energy and water appropriations bill to undermine these standards.  The first, sponsored by Rep. Burgess (R-TX), prevents the Department of Energy (DOE) from using any funds to enforce the standards.   The U.S. lighting industry and business, consumer, environmental, and other groups solidly oppose the amendment.  The second, sponsored by Rep. Cravaack (R-MN), blocks DOE from requiring its grant recipients to upgrade any lighting that does not meet or exceed the standards.

image via Shutterstock

These amendments are based on the flawed assumption that new efficiency standards mean that incandescent bulbs are banned.  This rabble rousing accusation is popular among those looking to obfuscate the facts for political gain, but the truth is that incandescent bulbs are not banned–they are just getting better.  Already, U.S. lighting companies like GE, Philips and Sylvania are producing new incandescents that meet these standards.  Consumers will also have the option to buy CFLs and LEDs that provide even greater savings.

Not only will the standards help the average family save approximately $100 a year on their electric bill, but they are also supporting our nation’s growing energy-efficient lighting industry and creating thousands of jobs across the country.  There are currently14,000 workers employed in the energy-efficient lighting industry, according to the Brookings Institution, and companies such as GE Lighting and TCP in OhioOsram Sylvania in PennsylvaniaCree in North Carolina and Philips Lighting in New York and other states are developing and manufacturing energy-efficient bulbs.   Our air quality will also improve with our light bulbs, because when our light bulbs use less electricity, our power plants produce less pollution.  When fully implemented, the standards will achieve energy savings equivalent to 30 large power plants.

It’s worrisome enough that House Republicans would risk hurting U.S. manufacturers and put thousands of jobs in jeopardy at a time when our country needs them most.  What’s even more troubling though is that their actions are completely out of step with the majority of Americans.

Consider these polls from the last year:

A USA Today national poll from February 2011 shows that consumers are increasingly buying the energy-savings bulbs and that 84 percent of those surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with the new bulbs.  In addition, there was strong consumer support for the federal lighting standards that will bring them better and more energy-efficient lighting choices.  A majority of consumers, 61 percent, support the light bulb efficiency standards that were passed as part of the 2007 energy bill.

Approval of Law to Set Light Bulb Efficiency Standards

 USA Today Poll pic.PNG 

 As you may know, in 2007, Congress passed a law to set higher energy standards for light bulbs.  This means standard light bulbs , or incandescent light bulbs, will be phased out in the next three years.  Do you think this is a good law or a bad law? [Gallup Poll, conducted February 15-16, 2011, n=1,016 adults]

EcoOpinion released a consumer survey in March 2011 that showed a majority of consumers have already adopted and are satisfied with energy efficient lighting. The survey found that:

  • A majority of Americans have installed some type of energy efficient lighting in their homes.  Two-thirds of Americans have installed CFLS in their home over the past year, and 27 percent they have installed some sort of LED fixture in their home.
  • Consumers are very satisfied with more energy efficient lighting options.  Two-thirds of respondents gave CFL bulbs strong ratings and over half of Americans gave the highest ratings to LEDs.
  • Two-thirds of Americans think that it is a good idea to phase out the traditional incandescent light bulb and transition to more energy efficient lighting.

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