Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules

Senate Democrats are urging Energy Secretary Rick Perry not to follow through with a rule that eliminates efficiency standards for about half the lightbulbs on the market.

The regulation, finalized by the Department of Energy in September, leaves in place rules for standard pear-shaped bulbs, while removing such requirements for recessed lighting, chandeliers and other shapes of bulbs.

“These rollbacks are indefensible, both in terms of their costs to consumers and their contravention of Congressional intent,” senators wrote in a letter spearheaded by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). “These standards protect consumer budgets and the climate.”

The senators want Perry to continue to apply the efficiency standards to the full range of bulb shapes covered under the Obama administration. 

Failing to do so, they say, will cost the average consumer an extra $100 on their electricity bill each year, while emitting 38 million metric tons of carbon annually.

The Department of Energy has argued its rule will have little impact given the increasing demand for LED bulbs, which use less electricity than many other types.

“This rule does not prevent consumers from buying the lamps they desire, including efficient options,” the agency wrote in the rule. “The market is successfully transitioning to LEDs regardless of government regulation. Consumers are clearly taking advantage of the energy savings provided by LEDs.”

But critics say the rule violates “anti backsliding” provisions that bar the Energy Department from adopting weaker efficiency standards.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

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