House to vote on GOP legislation repealing light bulb efficiency standards

House Republicans introduced legislation Wednesday they hope to bring to the floor next week that would repeal a light bulb efficiency law.

The legislation, sponsored 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.

As The Hill reported Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) hopes to bring the bill to the floor next week for a vote, according to his spokeswoman.

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Leana Fallow, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said next week’s floor schedule has not yet been set. But she said Republicans hope to bring the bill to the floor “in the near future.”

Upton’s support for the bill represents a change of tune for the energy panel chairman. He supported the 2007 light bulb efficiency law, much to the chagrin of his fellow Republicans.

But Upton now says the law limits consumers' choices.

“It was never my goal for Washington to decide what type of light bulbs Americans should use," Upton said in a statement to The Hill. "The public response on this issue is a clear signal that markets – not governments – should be driving technological advancements. I will join my colleagues to vote yes on a bill to protect consumer choice and guard against federal overreach.”

The bill Barton introduced Wednesday would repeal the light bulb efficiency law. It also includes a provision specifying that the efficiency standards can not be met solely with bulbs that contain mercury. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which are much more efficient than incandescents, contain mercury. Barton introduced similar legislation earlier this year.

Republicans have cast the 2007 law as a “light bulb ban,” even though the language doesn’t explicitly ban incandescent bulbs. Still, Republicans say the law will disadvantage incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL bulbs. LEDs and CFLs are significantly more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Environmental groups and others have mounted an opposition campaign to the Republican legislation. The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance to Save Energy and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association are running advertisements in Capitol Hill newspapers touting the light bulb efficiency law.

“Phasing in energy efficient light bulbs means more choices and more savings and that’s good for families, the country and the environment," the ads say.