Republican to revive lightbulb war

A House Republican is planning in the coming weeks to revive the GOP offensive against federal lightbulb efficiency standards.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) will offer an amendment to Energy Department spending legislation that would block funding for implementation of the standards, the lawmaker's office told The Hill. The standards have come under fire from conservatives in recent years.

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans won the inclusion of a similar provision in an omnibus spending compromise that House and Senate lawmakers agreed to in December. The provision blocked funding for implementation of the law for fiscal year 2012. Burgess’ amendment would apply to fiscal year 2013.

Advocates of the law, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), have said the GOP provision blocking funding for implementation will have little effect.

Bingaman noted in December that lightbulb manufacturers have been working for years to make their products more efficient in anticipation of complying with the rules.

Republicans in Congress, joined by powerful conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, have spent months railing against provisions in a 2007 energy law that require traditional incandescent lightbulbs to be 30 percent more efficient starting in this year.

Opponents often describe the standards as a “lightbulb ban,” arguing that the rules would greatly restrict consumer choice by pushing out traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive, but more efficient, LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

But the standards do not ban incandescent bulbs. They instead require them to be more efficient. While more efficient lightbulbs are often more expensive at the point of sale, experts note they save consumers money on their electricity bills over the long term.

The House Appropriations committee approved the Energy Department’s fiscal 2013 spending bill late last month. The legislation is expected to come up for a floor vote in the coming weeks.