Omnibus spending deal blocks funding for light bulb efficiency standards

Omnibus spending legislation greenlighted by House and Senate negotiators Thursday night blocks Energy Department light bulb efficiency standards that have come under fire from conservatives in recent months.

The legislation, which would avert a government shutdown, prevents funding from being used for the implementation of certain Energy Department light bulb standards. The standards would begin phasing in next year.

{mosads}The provision was included in a version of the spending legislation unveiled by House Republicans early Thursday without the backing of Senate Democrats. 

Jennifer Hing, a House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman, said the language remains in the final version of the bill.

“There is no change in this language from the version that was posted last night,” she said in an email.

Senate Democrats said earlier this week that the GOP-backed language blocking funding for the light bulb standards was one of a handful of obstacles to reaching a deal. But the final spending agreement includes the language, in a symbolic win for Republicans.

House Republicans have sought for months to repeal provisions in a 2007 energy law that require traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more efficient starting in 2012. 

Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Republicans in Congress, including GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, have blasted the standards, casting them as an egregious example of federal overreach

“President Bachmann will allow you to buy any light bulb you want,” Bachmann said this summer.

Republicans often describe the standards as a “light bulb 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.

Environmental and energy-efficiency groups note that the standards do not ban incandescent bulbs, but instead require them to be more efficient. While more efficient light bulbs are often more expensive at the point of sale, experts say they save consumers money on their electricity bills over the long term.

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