NRDC: DOE Rollback of Energy-Saving Light Bulb Standards is Senseless and Illegal

Sept. 10, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Energy moved to block energy-saving standards scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 for nearly all of America’s light bulbs, defying a 2007 law in separate actions that will increase consumers’ utility bills and worsen the carbon pollution driving climate change.

The DOE issued a final rule that will allow the continued sales of four classes of highly wasteful incandescent and halogen bulbs: three-way, candle-shaped used in chandeliers and sconces, reflector bulbs used in recessed cans and track lighting, and the round globe bulbs typically used in bathroom lighting fixtures. At the same time, DOE said it also does not intend to go forward with standards that would have required the everyday pear-shaped bulbs found in most of the remainder of America’s sockets to also become more efficient as of Jan. 1. Together, these actions could cost the average U.S. household more than $100 per year – which will add up to $14 billion in additional annual utility bill costs nationally as of 2025 and will require at least 25 power plants’ worth of extra electricity every year.

Following is a statement from Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“We will explore all options, including litigation, to stop this completely misguided and unlawful action. The Trump administration is illegally blocking the improved standards approved by a bipartisan Congress and supported by the lighting industry 12 years ago.

“Today’s action sets the United States up to become the world’s dumping ground for the inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs being phased out around the world. Given the worsening climate crisis, this is no time to significantly increase pollution and consumer energy bills just so a few lighting companies can make more money selling inefficient bulbs.

Horowitz will post a reaction blog. Background information, including a fact sheet,can be found at

The rollback of the four categories is a final rule that is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. DOE’s proposal to not go forward with the increased efficiency standards for pear-shaped bulbs, with a 60-day comment period and an Oct. 15 meeting, can be found here:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC  


Pat Remick



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