U.S. House Republicans urged passage of a measure to block a phase-out of traditional light bulbs, as the Obama administration called the bill anti-consumer.
The legislation, which was debated on the House floor yesterday and may be voted on this week, would cost Americans $6 billion in energy savings in 2015, the White House said in a statement yesterday.
Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, introduced the proposal to invalidate lighting efficiency standards that would effectively ban bulbs similar to the one invented by Thomas Edison more than 130 years ago. The requirements were included in a 2007 energy law signed by Republican President George W. Bush.
You remember ol’ Joe Barton, dont’cha, kids? He was the one who called the deal worked out between President Obama and BP in which BP would set up a $20 billion fun to pay for damages after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a “shakedown,” and who apologized to Tony Hayward when he testified in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Keeping the light-bulb standards in place would be “overkill by the federal government,” Barton said in yesterday’s debate.
“If you’re Al Gore, and you want to spend $10 a light bulb, more power to you,” Barton said, referring to the former Democratic Vice President who won a Nobel Prize for his advocacy of policies to curb climate change.
Representative Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, said on the House floor that the government “wants to tell consumers what type of light bulb they use to read, cook, watch television, or light their garage.”
The new standards will cut air pollution and save consumers money in the long run, Democrats said. Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said during debate that the efficiency standards will save the amount of energy over 20 years that would otherwise be produced by 30 coal-fired plants.
The danger posed by the mercury in CFLs is “extraordinarily small,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, on a conference call yesterday with reporters.
Republicans are bringing up the bill under parliamentary rules that prohibit amendments and require two-thirds of the members voting to pass.
If the measure clears the higher vote hurdle, it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Senator Jeff Bingaman, the chairman of the Senate Energy panel, “thinks that efforts to repeal the law are just plain dumb,” Bill Wicker, a spokesman for the New Mexico Democrat, said in an e-mail.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on a similar bill introduced by Senator Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican. “The committee plans no further action,” Wicker said.
The administration said the new requirements won’t dictate how Americans illuminate their homes. “Any type of bulb can be sold as long as it meets the efficiency requirements,” the White House said, without issuing a veto threat.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which includes Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric Co. (GE), is lobbying against the push to prevent the light-bulb changes. Manufacturers have said they already retooled their factories to make products that comply with the new standards.
Environmental groups and efficiency advocates have also countered the Republican-led push by noting potential cost savings to consumers under the 2007 law.