Energy & Environment

Trump admin seeks to roll back light bulb efficiency rule

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The Trump administration wants to roll back energy efficiency standards for certain light bulbs.

In proposal released Wednesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed repealing an Obama administration regulation that expanded the number of light bulbs subject to stringent efficiency standards under existing regulations, effective next year.

Those standards have already greatly increased the market for high-efficiency light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and reduced sales of traditional incandescent bulbs.

{mosads}Trump officials say their predecessors improperly interpreted the 1975 law that allows for such standards.

“DOE has since determined that the legal basis underlying those revisions misconstrued existing law,” the agency wrote in the notice that is due to be published in the Federal Register in the coming days.

Groups that supported the more stringent rules slammed the rollback proposal.

“This is another senseless and illegal Trump administration rollback that will needlessly hike our energy bills and spew tons more pollution into the air, harming the health of our children and the environment,” Noah Horowitz, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, said in a statement.

“Even with today’s highly efficient LED light bulbs on the market, Trump’s Department of Energy wants to keep 2.7 billion of our lighting sockets mired in a world of dinosaur, energy-guzzling lighting technology that basically hasn’t been updated for more than a hundred years.”

The Alliance to Save Energy was also critical.

“I just don’t understand the rationale behind trying to turn back the clock,” said Jason Hartke, the group’s president.

“There aren’t many people out there clamoring for outdated light bulbs that use four or five times as much energy. Consumers have moved on and embraced high-efficiency bulbs like LEDs because prices are plummeting and because they’re getting a better-performing, longer-lasting product that saves them money.”

The Obama rule, which was made final the day before President Trump took office, redefined the term “general service lamps” to include certain light bulbs that were previously considered to be so specialized that they should not be subject to standard rules, mainly various sizes of bulbs known as incandescent reflector lamps.

Since the Wednesday proposal would only changed a definition, the DOE argued that it is not changing a standard, so it is not subject to a legal prohibition on “backsliding” with efficiency standards.

Industry groups, including the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), had lobbied for the Trump administration to repeal the 2017 rule, arguing that while lightbulbs are getting more efficiency, the rule itself was illegal.

NEMA sued to overturn the rule in federal court, but it withdraw the case when the Trump administration agree to review it for potential change or repeal later in 2017.

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