Dim Bulbs: Budget Deal Keeps GOP’s Anti-Consumer, Anti-Business, Pro-Pollution Rider Blocking Lighting Standards

The shutdown-averting budget bill will block federal light bulb efficiency standards, giving a win to House Republicans fighting the so-called ban on incandescent light bulbs.

You’ll find that misleading lede filed in the Politico under “GOP wins light bulb fight” with the even more misleading blurb, “The budget bill gives a victory to House Republicans fighting the ban on incandescent bulbs.”

Except, of course, there was no “ban on incandescent bulbs.” As a leading manufacturer explained to Climate Progress in July:

“The reality is, consumers will see no difference at all. The only difference they’ll see is lower energy bills because we’re creating more efficient incandescent bulbs.”

The only victory is for the right wing media that kept lying about the issue (see “Led by Murdoch Outlets, Conservative Media Misled Light Bulb Consumers 40 Times In 7 Months”).


Oh, and there was a victory for the extremist Tea Party wing of the party, which opposes all government standards, even ones that the lightbulb industry itself wants and that would save households an average of $100 annually — which is to say it would save consumers $12 billion a year.

As E&E News (subs. req’d) reports, the non-deluded majority understand how nonsensical this “victory” is:

“In the real world, outside talk radio’s echo chamber, lighting manufacturers such as GE, Philips and Sylvania have tooled up to produce new incandescent light bulbs that look and operate exactly the same as old incandescent bulbs and give off just as much warm light,” Republicans for Environmental Protection Policy Director Jim DiPeso said in a statement. “The only different is they produce less excess heat and are therefore 30 percent more efficient. What’s not to like?”

Blocking the standards effectively serves as a slap in the face to light bulb manufacturers, who have been working since 2007 to produce the new bulbs.

“Eliminating funding for light bulb efficiency standards is especially poor policy as it would leave the policy in place but make it impossible to enforce, undercutting domestic manufacturers who have invested millions of dollars in U.S. plants to make new incandescent bulbs that meet the standards,” a coalition of dozens of lighting manufacturers, efficiency groups and environmentalists said in a letter this week to senators.

And it would disrupt the marketplace, supporters of the standards say, because individual states could still implement the standards. California, in fact, already is enforcing them.

“It would create a patchwork of enforcement that would be nightmarish for the industry,” said a lighting industry executive.

Nightmarish for the industry. Costly for consumers. Undercutting U.S. competitiveness.

So how did this inane provision stay in the final deal?

The rational folks turned wobbly and the extremist dim bulbs stood their ground. Sound familiar? Politico spells it out:

After giving up in recent weeks on dozens of other riders aimed at stopping EPA rules because of opposition from Senate Democrats and the White House, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) told POLITICO that the light bulb rider was “going to be in there.”

“Speaker [John] Boehner to Chairman [Fred] Upton to Chairman [Hal] Rogers, they all strongly support keeping it in,” said Barton, who served as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2007 when the light bulb language got approved. “And it’s a personal commitment because of their philosophy.”

The White House was not publicly spelling out which riders it didn’t want in the final spending package, with communications director Dan Pfeiffer only saying Wednesday that the House GOP plan would “undercut environmental protections.”

On Twitter, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) wrote: “I strongly oppose that language. I hope it’s deleted from any final bill that we pass.”

House Democrats recalled Upton was an original co-sponsor of the light bulb provision inserted in the 2007 energy law and bemoaned his rightward shift since running last fall for Energy and Commerce chairman.

“This is just another poke in the eye,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

“It’s the power of Michele Bachmann and the presidential campaign,” added Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee that approved the original language. “What can I say? If we can solve the energy problem with the outcome on the light bulb, America would be a great place.”

… Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the Interior and environment appropriations subcommittee, said Senate opposition to the light bulb provisions had up to this point been minimal.

“Amazing, isn’t it?” he said. “They objected to all the other EPA riders and stuff. That was the instructions from the White House. But apparently the light bulb ones didn’t bother them too much.”

Amazing? How about “pathetic”?

Related Post:

  • Rep. Fred Upton Eats His Own: Congressman Pushes Vote to Kill His Light Bulb Efficiency Standards
  • How Many Republicans Does It Take to Screw Up Our Light Bulb Savings? David Edison Sloane: My great-grandfather would be all for keeping intact the Energy Independence and Security Act. The law requires light bulbs of all types to be at least 25 percent more energy efficient by 2012. To [Thomas Alva] Edison, that would have been no big deal. He would have immediately embraced the challenge of reducing the power usage of the incandescent light bulb — and regarded it as a great opportunity to offer consumers a better and more ecologically sound product