Chris White, DCNF
The Trump administration is preparing to repeal an Obama-era rule effectively outlawing a wide swath of popular lightbulbs, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Department of Energy is ready to scrap a rule broadening the number of lightbulbs that must meet strict energy efficiency standards set to take effect in 2020, according to a document the agency published on its website. The document was later removed from the site, WaPo noted.
Former President Barack Obama’s DOE expanded the class of bulbs covered by a 2007 lightbulb ban to include bug lights, three-way bulbs, “rough service lamps,” and some decorative bulbs, such as globe-shaped bulbs. Obama’s decision came in January 2017 and roped in bulbs that had previously been exempt from the ban.
Obama officials argued the expansion was needed because consumers might use the unregulated bulbs to replace regulated ones. “DOE expects these sales will likely increase since these lamps could be used as replacements for other regulated lamp types,” the law notes. The Trump administration is clamming up about the change.
“The Department does not comment on ongoing rulemakings beyond what is publicly available in the Unified Agenda published twice a year,” spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told reporters when asked if the DOE is preparing to ding the regulation.
Eliminating the regulation is potentially as groundbreaking as President Donald Trump’s move to roll back fuel emission rules, according to some experts.
“It’s certainly one of the biggest for energy efficiency standards, setting aside the clean-car standards,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, which discovered and saved the document before it was removed from the DOE’s website, said in an interview with reporters.
Congress passed into law in 2007 new efficiency requirements for general lightbulbs, with strict requirements set to take effect in 2020. LED bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps can easily meet the 2020 standard of 45 lumens per watt, according to deLaski. But the traditional incandescent bulbs on the market cannot.
Obama also banned sales of the 100-watt incandescent lightbulb in 2012 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was taking hold. Conservatives complained at the time, calling the bans an infringement on consumers’ rights to choose how they light their homes.
“Congress should not be picking winners and losers, allowing big corporate donors to dictate what consumer products we can and can’t buy!” the conservative Eagle Forum wrote in 2012. “If we don’t take a stand to save our light bulbs, what will they go after next?”