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Trump admin blocks expanded rules against inefficient lightbulbs

Richard Lawler
Senior News Editor
Scott Olson via Getty Images

On Friday the Department of Energy announced it will not allow amended standards for incandescent lamps to go into effect. Following the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 there was talk of a "ban" on incandescent lights, but that wasn't exactly what the rules mandated. While there has been a regulatory push toward more efficient LED lighting that's cheaper to use over time and better to reduce climate change-causing emissions, stricter definitions finalized by the Obama Administration would have blocked the sale of bulbs under a certain level of efficiency beginning on January 1st, 2020.

In combination with another change announced in September, the Energy department is now blocking stricter rules and keeping older-style, less-efficient lighting on the shelf. The current administration has argued that it favors consumer "choice" of bulbs that may be available for cheaper up front and says that LED bulbs dominating the marketplace shows new rules aren't needed. Conservationists and many others claim that is not true at all, and incandescent bulbs have already been phased out by law in many other places. According to them, the move is backed by bulb manufacturers who want to dump their inefficient products -- that haven't been made in the US for years -- on US consumers.

In response, the Natural Resources Defense Council notes several states, including California, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and Vermont, have established their own higher standards for lightbulbs. Also, 16 attorneys general are suing the administration over the moves, and in November New York AG Letitia James said "The United States cannot and will not be the exception to the international movement to phase out the inefficient, unnecessary, and costly use of incandescent bulbs."