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Energy Department sued over lightbulb efficiency rollback

Energy Department sued over lightbulb efficiency rollback
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Environmentalists and consumer protection groups sued the Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday over its move to block a measure designed to require more efficient lightbulbs. 

The administration announced the rollback, which applies to widely-used, pear-shaped incandescent lightbulbs, late last year. It argued that the efficiency measure would be too expensive for consumers.

Tuesday's lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of America, Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, Environment America and U.S. Public Interest Research Group. 

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"The Department of Energy seems dead-set on keeping energy-wasting incandescent and halogen bulbs on the market despite the fact that many countries around the world have already decided to phase them out,” Noah Horowitz, director of NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, said in a statement. 

“The United States could soon become the world’s dumping ground for these incredibly inefficient bulbs, which increase Americans’ energy bills and lead to millions of tons of additional carbon pollution every year,” Horowitz added. 

An Energy Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying in an email that the department does not comment on pending litigation. 

But DOE has previously argued that market forces are already pushing Americans to buy more energy efficient LED lightbulbs without any prodding from the government. 

“Innovation and technology are already driving progress, increasing the efficiency and affordability of light bulbs, without federal government intervention. The American people will continue to have a choice on how they light their homes,” Energy Sec. Daniel Brouillette said when the rule was finalized, arguing the administration was protecting consumer choice.

The legal action follows a suit by the same groups over a different administration lightbulb rollback, which removed Obama-era efficiency standards for recessed lighting, chandeliers and other shapes of bulbs.

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Horowitz, in the Tuesday statement, described both changes as a "one-two punch." 

“First, the agency cut the scope of the standards in half without any technical justification, and then declared that they weren’t going to update the standards for the remaining ones, even though they were required to do so by law,” he said. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.

Updated on Feb. 26 at 7:22 a.m.