Proposed Federal Legislation to Preserve Old Incandescent Lights Burns Out

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BULB Act to preserve old incandescent light bulbs failsLike an old incandescent light bulb, the notorious BULB Act finally fizzled in the House of Representatives last night, our friends over at Think Progress report. The proposed legislation would have repealed energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that were set back in 2007. The bill required a 2/3 majority to pass and it failed, gaining only 233 votes in favor with 193 opposed.

Provoking Outrage Over Energy Efficiency

The 2007 law did not ban incandescent light bulbs, as BULB Act supporters suggested. Instead, it phased in new energy efficiency standards for incandescent lights, basically forcing manufacturers to invest some money in R&D. The result is that today consumers have a greater range of light bulb choices: LEDs, CFLs, bulbs that look and act like incandescent bulbs but are not, and even modded-out incandescent bulbs that meet the new efficiency standards. So, what’s the buzz?

Political Theater Over Home Lighting

The BULB Act was a classic piece of political theater. Like all successful political theater, it was designed to evoke a gut reaction, and did it ever. People sure do get upset when you mess with their home lighting, as demonstrated by a number of colorful anecdotes that surfaced in the media. However, reports of widespread anxiety over the loss of incandescent lights were greatly exaggerated. In reality, it appears that most U.S. households are interested in checking out new, money saving technologies. More to the point, manufacturers have already moved on and are opening new factories in the U.S. putting people to work making new energy efficient light bulbs.

There May Be Life in the Old Bulb Yet

The BULB Act is done, but meanwhile on the state level a number of lawmakers are doggedly pursuing legislative remedies of their own in order to keep incandescent bulbs in the hands of the shrinking number of consumers who really want them, so stay tuned.

Image: Old light bulb by nannetteturner on flickr.com.


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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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