Shortly after the US Department of Energy helped broker a deal that would see television set-top boxes save their users a billion dollars’ worth of electricity, another branch of the government has decided to undercut energy efficiency efforts.
As part of the new budget deal announced today, Congress has voted to eliminate standards for light bulb efficiency, standards that would see incandescent bulbs phased out in favor of technologies that convert far more electricity into light.
These ideas were first enacted during the Bush administration, via the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Incandescent bulbs were unable to meet the standards, so they would eventually be forced off the market in favor of LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs. But Republicans have since soured on the bill, viewing it as an intrusion on the market and attempting to identify it with President Obama. Recent Congresses have tried many times to repeal the standards, but these have all been blocked.
However, US budgets are often used as a vehicle to get policies enacted that couldn’t pass otherwise, since having an actual budget is considered too valuable to hold up over relatively minor disputes.
The repeal of these standards got attached to the budget and will be passed into law with it.