NJ Joins Suit Opposing Trump DOE Rollback of Energy-Saving Standards for Light Bulbs

Tom Johnson | November 6, 2019 | Energy & Environment
Reversal of rules could boost U.S. electricity use by 80 billion kilowatt hours over one year, add more than $100 to average annual consumer bill
Credit: hyejin yi/Pixabay
Trump administration rule could add more than $100 a year on the average consumer bill.

The Trump administration faces new lawsuits over its rollback of energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs, a move critics say will spike energy bills and increase climate pollution.

New Jersey joined with 14 other states and a half-dozen environmental- and consumer-advocacy groups in challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s reversal of energy-saving standards for the billions of light bulbs that fill about half of the conventional sockets in America.

The lawsuits contend the department acted illegally in reversing its two-year-old rules expanding the type of bulbs required to become more energy efficient as of Jan. 1, 2020, under a law passed by Congress 12 years ago.

The litigation continues a pattern where the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce regulation of business and industry has led to multiple-state lawsuits and others to prevent easing of rules. New Jersey has joined more than 40 such actions  since the Murphy administration took office, according to a recent story by NJ Spotlight.

Dim-bulb policy?

“It’s a sad day in America when the federal government makes a decision that increases household bills and pollution just so lighting companies can keep selling bulbs that burn out in a year or two,’’ said Kit Kennedy, senior director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Energy program.

According to an analysis by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, the rule will increase U.S. electricity use by 80 billion kilowatt hours over the course of a year and translate to more than $100 a year on the average consumer bill.

With the new efficiency standards, consumers and businesses would have saved $12 billion as of 2025 and avoided the need to generate 25 large-power-plants’ worth of electricity.

“We want to be expanding that kind of efficiency, not cutting it back,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, one of the organizations joining the lawsuit. “Trump’s DOE is trying to get rid of something that is already working.’’

Other groups joining the fight included the Consumer Federation of America, Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, Environment America and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

A parallel suit was filed by New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and New York City.