In a clear victory for consumer choice, the Trump administration’s Department of Energy rolled back Obama-era rules that mandated the use of LED light bulbs.
DOE argued its rule will have little impact given the increasing demand for LED bulbs, which use less electricity than many other types.
“This rule does not prevent consumers from buying the lamps they desire, including efficient options,” the agency wrote in the rule. “The market is successfully transitioning to LEDs regardless of government regulation. Consumers are clearly taking advantage of the energy savings provided by LEDs.”
A senior DOE official told reporters that “concerns may be overstated” and the new rule would not have a large impact on the market.
“This regulation gives consumers more choices, and consumers are better off with more choices,” he said.
The regulation “eliminates efficiency standards for about half the bulbs on the market. It leaves in place rules for standard pear-shaped bulbs, while removing such requirements for recessed lighting, chandeliers and other shapes of bulbs.”
This isn’t a big controversy because many people will still be buying the LED bulbs due to the savings on their electric bill.
But there’s a serious question whether the new regs are even legal.
NRDC and other energy efficiency and environmental groups have argued that the DOE rule is illegal given federal laws that prohibit backsliding on energy efficiency standards, barring “decreases [in] the minimum required energy efficiency.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry appeared to acknowledge as much in a May appearance before Congress, telling lawmakers portions of the Obama regulation were burdensome but that “you can never back up a standard.”
Any lawsuits filed over the rule are likely to hang on that portion of the law, along with directives from Congress during the George W. Bush and Obama years to increase efficiency standards and phase out inefficient incandescent and halogen light bulbs.
“We will explore all options, including litigation, to stop this completely misguided and unlawful action,” Horowitz said in a statement. “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. 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.”
For myself, I much prefer the incandescent bulbs due to their whiter light. For me, it’s much easier to read.
Anyway, it beats whale oil.