CEI Leads Coalition Letter to Department of Energy Defending Freedom of Choice for Light Bulbs

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As I described in my recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, A Regulatory Burden For Every Room In Your House, the Biden administration has embarked on a wave of new efficiency regulations for just about every energy and water-using appliance in your home. This includes an attack on incandescent light bulbs. The Obama administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) tried to regulate them off the market, the Trump administration blocked the effort, but now the Biden DOE is at it again. This is why the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined 14 other organizations in submitting a comment to the agency in favor of keeping incandescent bulbs on the market and letting consumers choose for themselves.

Though not outlawing incandescent light bulbs per se, DOE’s December 13, 2021 proposed rule would impose an energy efficiency standard that would make them prohibitively expensive, at an estimated $8.10 each.

Efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs have emerged as a popular alternative, but they cost more than incandescent bulbs and are not as good for certain functions such as dimming. Consumers are better off with choices rather than making LEDs the only game in town.

Fortunately, the statutory provisions authorizing DOE to set appliance efficiency standards prohibit the agency from setting standards that compromise product features and performance. CEI discussed these provisions in our comments urging the agency to withdraw the proposed rule.

Of particular concern, both for the pending light bulb rulemaking and for dozens of other appliance rulemakings (including furnaces, air conditioners, ovens, clothes washers and dryers, and dishwashers), is DOE’s growing emphasis on “reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering the Nation’s resilience to climate change.” However, by incorporating its estimated planetary benefits of light bulb restrictions, the agency is pursuing an environmental rather than a consumer agenda. Not only are such estimates of climate benefits highly speculative, assumption-driven, and prone to bias, but incorporating them into the regulatory process violates the provisions in the law that put the interests of consumers first, which we also covered in our comments to the agency.

CEI and its allies in its free-market community will continue to challenge this and other proposed appliance efficiency standards that violate the law, constrain freedom of choice, and do more economic harm than environmental good.