On Thursday March 10, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider a bill (S.395) introduced by Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi that would repeal efforts to expand the use of more energy-efficient light bulbs.
Along with companion bills sponsored by House Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the proposals would roll back energy efficiency standards signed into law by President George W. Bush that are designed to increase the efficiency of light bulbs by at least 25 percent.
If passed, the bills from Enzi, Barton and Bachmann would derail plans for new job-creating lighting factories and eliminate an estimated $10 billion in annual energy costs savings.
Please tell Congress that going backward on light bulbs not a very bright idea.
Opponents to new efficient light bulb standards say the government wants to tell consumers which types of light bulbs they can use, limit their choices to swirly compact florescent lamp bulbs, and ban incandescent bulbs.
That’s just not the case.
The new standards don’t force any type of bulb on consumers, nor do they ban any type of bulb. Incandescent bulbs will still be available – it’s just that new and improved incandescent bulbs will put out the same sort of light using 28 percent less energy. Current incandescent waste about 90 percent of the energy they consume.
And, of course, if you want to save even more, compact fluorescents (CFLs) that are now widely available will cut your energy costs by as much as 75 percent.
AMERICANS LIKE THEIR EFFICIENT LIGTH BULBS
Consumers already are adapting to better bulbs - and they like them. A February poll by USA Today found that nearly 3 out of 4 Americans have recently purchased new, more efficient light bulbs and 84 percent said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with them.
SAVINGS – AND MORE SAVINGS
When fully implemented, the new light bulb standards are expected to reduce the nation’s power bill by $10 billion a year.
The savings don’t stop there. The new standards also will reduce the need to build as many as 30 new power plants and cut greenhouse gas pollution by 100 million tons – the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road - helping reduce health problems (and health costs) along the way.
LIGHT BULB INNOVATION DRIVES ECONOMIC GROWTH
New lighting standards are already driving R&D investments in the United States and creating new jobs. Some examples:
- Sylvania recently retooled its St. Mary’s, Penn. incandescent bulb plant to make new incandescents that meet the new standards.
- Philips Lumiled in California, Cree Inc. in North Carolina, and Lighting Science Group in Florida are creating thousands of new jobs at factories that make new LED bulbs.
- Bulb maker TCP Inc. used to do all of its manufacturing in China. But in 2009, the company announced plans for its first U.S. plant, in Ohio, to help meet growing demand for CFLs because of the new standards. When was the last time you heard of a company moving its manufacturing from China to the United States?
When all else fails, opponents to the new lighting standards use scare tactics and bring up health concerns. CFLs contain dangerous mercury, they point out.
At best, the health scare tactics are a huge stretch.
Today’s CFLs contain an average of four milligrams of mercury. In contrast, U.S. power plants pumped nearly 90,000 pounds of mercury in to the air in 2008, much of it in order to generate power for outdated light bulbs. To generate that amount of mercury, you’d have to break about 10 billion CFL bulbs
WANT MORE INFORMATION?
For a fact sheet on the new light bulb standards please see http://www.nrdc.org/lightbulbs/
For information about the federal policy implications of the new standards from NRDC Federal Energy Policy Director Jim Presswood, please see http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jpresswood/
For details about more efficient light bulbs from Noah Horowitz, NRDC senior scientist and director of NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency, please see http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/nhorowitz/