House Republicans passed two amendments on a spending bill Tuesday that would bar the federal government from imposing light bulb standards that critics say are too meddlesome. Passed through a voice vote, the provision would amend the Energy and Water spending bill for 2013 by preventing the Energy Department from spending money to enforce bulb efficiency regulations that were established in a law passed during the Bush administration.
Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the phase-out was slated to commence in January 2012, which banned the sale of all 100-watt bulbs, as well as the sale of all 75-watt bulbs by July 2013. But a spending bill passed last December stalled the mandate until this October.
The discussion over energy-efficient light bulbs became especially contentious late last year, as the January 1 deadline neared. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the December provision showed that Congress is becoming more aware of the American people’s desires. “We heard the message loud and clear,” the Congressman affirmed. “Americans don’t want government standards determining how they light their homes.”
Tuesday’s amendment, sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), says the federal government has no authority to mandate the use of certain light bulbs. “We shouldn’t be making these decisions for the American people,” Burgess said Tuesday on the House floor. “People are sick of the government treading where it just doesn’t belong.”
“The law couldn’t be enforced,” he added in an interview. “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges. We’re the energy police.”
Despite its swift passage, the language in the amendment ignited a brief debate in which Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) said the way it read could imperil U.S. manufacturers that have already doled out millions of dollars to comply with the standards.
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Photo: Energy saving lamp on grey background via Shutterstock