The Trump administration is rolling back of requirements for more energy-efficient lightbulbs — a move lambasted by critics as being both costly to consumers and harmful to the planet.
The Energy Department announced Wednesday that it was eliminating efficiency standards for many commonly used lightbulbs. These standards had been included in energy laws implemented under President George W. Bush and finalized during President Barack Obama’s tenure, NBC News reported. In the years since, the bulb rules have become a cause for conservative media and politicians, including President Donald Trump.
Scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the regulations would have raised the energy efficiency requirements for many popular lightbulb types, including those used in bathroom vanities, chandeliers and recessed lighting. The standards would have led to the phasing out of incandescent and halogen bulbs used for these purposes and replaced them with fluorescent or LED versions. LED bulbs use up to 80% less electricity and last considerably longer than traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs.
The rule would have applied to about half of the approximately 6 billion lightbulbs used in the U.S., the Natural Resources Defense Council said.
Consumers were predicted to save billions of dollars thanks to the new rule ― and millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions would also have been prevented, experts said.
Defending the rule reversal on Wednesday, the Energy Department said the standards had been established “in a manner that is not consistent with the best reading” of existing law. Plus, the department said, it was returning “choice to consumers” with the rollback.
“Different households have different needs, and it was both unfair and illegal to limit their options,” a department spokesperson told CNBC.
While industry groups like the National Electrical Manufacturers Association have lauded the rollback, environmentalists and climate experts warned of its potentially damaging ramifications.
“The Energy Department flat out got it wrong today,” Jason Hartke of the Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition of business and green groups, said in a statement. “Instead of moving us forward, this rule will keep more energy-wasting bulbs on store shelves and saddle the average American household with about $100 in unnecessary energy costs every year.”
“Wasting energy with inefficient lightbulbs isn’t just costly for homes and businesses, it’s terrible for our climate,” Hartke added.
The Natural Resources Defense Council vowed to “explore all options, including litigation” to stop the Trump administration’s “misguided” move.
“Today’s action sets the United States up to become the world’s dumping ground for the inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs being phased out around the world,” Noah Horowitz of the NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards told NBC. “Given the worsening climate crisis, this is no time to significantly increase pollution and consumer energy bills just so a few lighting companies can make more money selling inefficient bulbs.”
As The Hill noted, environmental groups may not be the only ones that’ll take the Trump administration to court over the reversal.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) lambasted the rollback as a “dim-witted move” and said he was “prepared” to launch a challenge over it.
“With all that’s at stake in the world, the Trump Administration has chosen to declare war on energy-efficient light bulbs,” Becerra said in a statement. “This is but another dim-witted move that will waste energy at the expense of our people and planet. We are prepared to challenge this latest Trump backsliding which seemingly has no bottom.”