“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about this,” he said. “That’s exactly why hearings and process are needed.”
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, echoed NRDC's concerns in a letter to Republicans on the panel Friday.
"H.R. 2417 was introduced earlier this week on July 6, 2011. Obviously, the Committee has not had the opportunity to hold hearings on the legislation," Waxman and other Democrats on the panel said in the letter. "Moreover, the Committee has not held any hearing – legislative or oversight – on the subject matter of the legislation."
The legislation, authored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), would repeal sections of a 2007 energy law that require traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient beginning in 2012. The light bulb standards have come under fire from powerful conservative opinion-makers, who argue that the law, which passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed into law by George W. Bush, is the latest example of federal overreach.
The bill, the Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act, was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but the panel held no hearings on the legislation. Instead, House Republicans leadership fast-tracked the bill. It is slated to come up for a final floor vote Monday night or Tuesday.
A Republican Energy committee aide defended the decision to bring the bill to the floor in a statement:
"The BULB Act is a simple proposal based on the principle of consumer choice, and it deserves a vote. Given the host of energy issues being dealt with in our committee, the tight floor schedule with appropriations bills, and the time-sensitive nature of this issue, bringing a bill directly to the floor on suspension was the best way for Members to be able to vote in support of consumer choice and against allowing the government to pick winners and losers."
Republicans have cast the 2007 light bulb efficiency law as a “ban” on incandescent light bulbs. But the law would not ban incandescents. It would instead require them to become significantly more efficient.
Still, Republicans have criticized the law, arguing it will disadvantage incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive, but more efficient LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.
A slew of groups have mounted a campaign to oppose Barton’s legislation, running advertisements in Capitol Hill newspaper praising the light bulb efficiency law.
The NRDC said Monday that Barton’s bill is part of a broader effort by House Republicans to dismantle the country’s environment and public health laws.
Bob Keefe, the environmental group’s spokesman, said this week is “one of the worst weeks in recent history for environmental and public health issues in America.”
In addition to the bill repealing the light bulb efficiency law, the House is slated to begin consideration of a fiscal 2012 Energy and Water spending bill that makes major cuts to the administration clean energy programs.
At the same time, the House Appropriations Committee is slated to vote Tuesday on the fiscal 2012 spending bill for Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department. That bill includes numerous policy riders that would block EPA climate regulations, among other things.
Here’s more on this week’s schedule.
This story was updated at 12:47 p.m.