White House to relax energy efficiency rules for light bulbs

(New York Times, 5 Sep 2019) The Trump administration plans to significantly weaken federal rules that would have forced Americans to use much more energy-efficient light bulbs, a move that could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The proposed changes would eliminate requirements that effectively meant that most light bulbs sold in the United States — not only the familiar, pear-shaped ones, but several other styles as well — must be either LEDs or fluorescent to meet new efficiency standards.

The rules being weakened, which dated from 2007 and the administration of President George W. Bush and slated to start in the new year, would have all but ended the era of the incandescent bulb invented more than a century ago. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output of at least 25 large power plants, enough to power all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to an estimate by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Trump administration said the changes would benefit consumers by keeping prices low and eliminating government regulation.

“The Energy Department flat out got it wrong today,” said Jason Hartke, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit coalition of business and environmental groups. Calling the move an “unforced error,” he said, “Wasting energy with inefficient light bulbs isn’t just costly for homes and businesses, it’s terrible for our climate.”

The actions are the latest by the Trump administration to weaken a broad array of rules designed to fight climate change. Last week it announced a far-reaching plan to cut back on the regulation of emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Earlier this year it proposed freezing antipollution and fuel-efficiency standards for cars, and tried to replace the Clean Power Plan, a signature emissions-reduction measure of the Obama administration.

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New York Times, 5 Sep 2019: White House to relax energy efficiency rules for light bulbs