The Republican-sponsored bill that would have squelched forthcoming energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs has fallen short in the House of Representatives.
According to The New York Times coverage of the debate and subsequent vote, the "Better Use of Light Bulbs Act," or BULB Act, failed to get the two-thirds majority vote that it needed for passage.
The primary argument against the new rules, which start phasing in on January 1, 2012, is that the federal government is meddling too much with our lives by implementing energy-efficiency standards. The pricing for some of the energy-efficient bulbs also has been an issue; yes, the upfront costs are definitely higher, although that overlooks savings in electricity costs.
The lightbulb efficiency standards were passed in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which garnered broad bipartisan support. Ironically, one of the biggest proponents of that move, Texas Republican Joe Barton, was the person championing the repeal. In the debate, Barton said:
"The 2010 elections demonstrated that Americans are fed up with government intrusion. The federal government has crept so deep into our lives the federal agencies now determine what kind of light bulbs the American people are allowed to purchase."
Even though some detractors have positioned the standards as a ban, that's technically not true. But they do require bulbs of all types to be 25 percent to 30 percent more efficient by 2014. Specialty lighting is excluded. Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that the standards could result in $12.5 billion in potential savings. Whether or not that number is actually true, the phase-in of the bulbs will be many homeowners first real push into better energy-efficiency habits.