WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday proposed exempting some light bulbs from federal efficiency standards that take effect next year, a move environmentalists said would boost pollution and power bills for consumers.
The department said in a notice that revisions in two rules published by the Obama administration in January 2017, days before President Donald Trump was inaugurated, misconstrued existing law and that it was proposing to scrap the changes.
The proposal was part of a push by the administration to ease regulations. An executive order Trump signed the month he became president called for agencies to ditch two old regulations for each one they propose. The administration has also rolled back Obama-era regulations on pollution and emissions as it seeks to boost oil, gas and coal output.
The proposal would remove three-way bulbs, candle-shaped bulbs used in chandeliers, reflector bulbs used in recessed lighting, and others from having to comply with the new efficiency standards.
Advanced technologies, including light-emitting diode or LED light bulbs, use far less electricity than incandescent light bulbs, which produce far more wasted heat.
The changes would result in $12 billion in extra power bill costs for consumers, said the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. “This is another senseless and illegal Trump administration rollback that will needlessly hike our energy bills and spew tons more pollution into the air, harming the health of our children and the environment,” said Noah Horowitz, director of NRDC’s center for energy efficiency standards.
The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on criticism of its proposal. The department will hold a public meeting on the proposal in Washington on Feb. 28.
The Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer interests, said the proposal would give a lifeline to makers of inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs.
The Obama-era rules stemmed from bipartisan energy legislation passed in 2007 and signed by Trump’s fellow Republican, George W. Bush, that called for phasing in lighting
efficiency standards, the alliance said.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney