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NRDC Sues Department of Energy Over Lighting Standards Rollback

NRDC Sues Department of Energy Over Lighting Standards Rollback

NEW YORK – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today joined other environmental and consumer advocacy groups in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s rollback of energy-saving standards for the billions of light bulbs that fill about half of the conventional sockets in America, a reversal that the NRDC says will “significantly increase consumer energy bills and climate pollution.”

“It’s outrageous that the Department of Energy turned its back on the law passed by a bipartisan Congress and supported by industry more than 12 years ago to ensure our lighting is as energy efficient as possible,” said Kit Kennedy, senior director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program. “It’s not only illegal to backtrack on energy efficiency standards, the United States will become the dumping ground for the inefficient incandescent and halogen models already banned in Europe and being phased out by countries around the world.”

The NRDC filed suit with Earthjustice (representing the Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of America, and Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants); the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and Environment America in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In addition, a group of 15 states led by New York and California, plus the city of New York and the District of Columbia, filed a separate lawsuit in the same court. The lawsuits contend the Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) acted illegally in reversing its 2-year-old rules expanding the types of bulbs required to become more energy efficient as of Jan. 1, 2020, under a law passed by Congress in 2007.

At issue are a variety of bulb types, including four categories of common light bulbs: three-way, flame- or candle-shaped, globe-shaped versions commonly used in bathroom vanities, and reflector models installed in recessed cans and track lighting. Together, they are designed to go into about 2.7 billion U.S. sockets. The NRDC says, “Including them in the efficiency standards, would save consumers and businesses $12 billion as of 2025 and avoid the need to generate 25 large power plants’ worth of electricity. The additional pollution will equal the annual tailpipe emissions of 7 million cars.”

Separately, the Energy Department also has announced it does not plan to update the standards for the regular, pear-shaped bulbs in America’s homes and businesses. NRDC is filing opposing comments with the agency today, but that agency action is not part of today’s lawsuit.

NRDC energy efficiency advocate Joe Vukovich has posted a blog about the lawsuit here. Additional background material can be found here. A link to the petition for review is here. The states filing the separate lawsuit are New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York.

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