Mark Lennihan / AP
If you have bought a light bulb for a few years, you may lose yourself. Those controversial curly cue who were at the forefront there is not so long ago? Faded away. (Or harder to find.) Thanks to a 2007 law signed by President George W. Bush, shelf shelves are heavily stocked with LED bulbs that look more like the traditional pear-shaped incandescent version, but consume only a fifth of the energy.
A second wave of blister changes was expected to occur. But now, the Trump administration wants to cancel an Obama era regulation aimed at improving the energy efficiency of a wide range of special bulbs.
The issue in this case concerns light bulbs such as decorative globes used in bathrooms, recessed lighting reflectors, candle-shaped lamps and three-way bulbs. The Natural Resources Defense Council states that collectively, they account for about 2.7 billion light shots, nearly half of the conventional catches used in the United States.
A senseless retreat or an illegal rule?
At the very end of the Obama administration, the Ministry of Energy has decided that these special bulbs should also be subject to the efficiency requirements of the 2007 law. Lighting was opposed and sued to overturn the decision.
"In our opinion, the DOE has exceeded its authority," said Clark Silcox, General Counsel at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
NEMA argued that Congress had never intended the law to apply to all these other bulbs. After the inauguration of President Trump, the Energy Department agreed and proposed to reverse the previous decision of the agency.
"I just do not understand why we are trying to go back," said Jason Hartke, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. "There are not many people who claim obsolete bulbs that consume four or five times more energy."
Critics say that if the reversal is finalized, it will result in a higher energy bill for consumers and increased pollution.
"Now, we will need to generate about 25 large power plants using coal as a source of extra electricity if this collapse occurs," said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at NRDC. He calls this a bad idea and says it's illegal.
NEMA does not agree and also opposes the term "backtracking". The federal law does not allow to go back on the requirements for energy efficiency.
"The Ministry of Energy can not illegally return to a place where it could not legally stand," says Silcox.
Finally, a court will probably decide who is correct. Environmental groups promise to sue if the changes of the Obama era are reversed.
The lighting industry rejects claims that it simply wants to continue selling existing bulb models, even though they consume more energy. Silcox said companies are opting for more efficient lighting and are focusing on "What their consumers want and make sure their level of satisfaction is high".
A hard lesson from these curly cue bulbs
The industry has learned a lot after the release of the first generation of these compact fluorescent bulbs.
"Consumers, by and large, did not like them, they did not buy them, they complained about them, we heard about it loud and clear," said Jennifer Dolin, head of government affairs and public affairs. durability at LEDVANCE, which manufactures Sylvania bulbs.
Dolin says the industry wants to ensure the development of LED versions of all these types of bulbs before marketing them. She says that more efficient light bulbs are coming.
"The future of lighting is LED, that's no question and we see it on the market," she says. "We are finding that consumers are turning to LEDs at a much faster pace than expected."
However, given the increasing impacts of climate change, environmental groups argue that regulation is needed now to make this transition happen faster.
As the expected battle of justice materializes, the Environmental Defense Fund hopes that retailers will take the initiative and choose to store only energy – efficient special bulbs. But until now, no retailer has publicly committed to doing so.