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H.R. 2417 - Not A Bright Idea

The GOP has been in charge for more than six months and still hasn't passed a single jobs bill or rolled out a clear jobs plan.  This week is no different: Republicans are ignoring Americans' top priority of jobs, turning off the lights on energy efficiency, and asking American consumers to foot the bill. Instead of acting to create jobs and strengthen our economy, House Republicans brought a bill (H.R. 2417) that repeals bipartisan energy efficiency standards signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 that will save American families and small businesses billions per year in lower electricity costs. The bill failed to pass under suspension of the rules on July 12th, with the final vote 233-193 with 1 voting present.

There is no ban on incandescent bulbs. The standards passed as part of the landmark 2007 energy law simply call for incandescent bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient beginning in 2012, and several manufacturers--including Philips, GE, and Osram Sylvania--are already making new and improved energy-efficient incandescent bulbs, some here in America, that look and work just like the 125-year-old Edison bulb and that are saving consumers on their utility bills.

The legislation was a Republican idea and signed into law by a Republican President:

  • At the time it was introduced, the legislation was championed by Democratic and Republican leaders alike. The original 2007 lightbulb efficiency language was co-sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Ill. It passed easily through the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was added as an amendment to a bill that passed the Senate by a vote of 86-8, the House by a vote of 314-100, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. [National Journal, 7/11]
  • In fact, of the 95 Republicans who originally voted for these new energy standards in 2007 - 55 of them remain in office, including House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and Republican leaders Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Peter Roskam and Pete Sessions. 

These efficiency standards, repealed by the GOP bill, would save American families, businesses and the country more than $12.5 billion annually -- reducing Americans' energy costs by an average of 7 percent or about $85 per household each and every year when the standards are fully in place. The savings from the lighting standards would be like getting a free month of electricity and save enough energy annually to power all the homes in Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  See how people in your state will save.

Phasing-in energy-efficient light bulbs means more choice, savings and American jobs… that's good for families, the environment and our economy. 

The new standards are already prompting manufacturers to build new U.S. plants and create new U.S. jobs making more energy-efficient lighting technologies.  Nationally, more than 2,000 jobs have already been created at new lighting factories.

  • Sylvania has retooled a Pennsylvania plant to make the new, efficient incandescent light bulbs.
  • TCP, a bulb maker that traditionally has done all of its manufacturing in China, plans to open its first U.S. plant, in Ohio, where it will make new CFL bulbs.
  • Philips in California, Cree in North Carolina, and Lighting Science Group in Florida are creating jobs to produce LEDs and components.

More efficient light bulbs decrease the levels of harmful air pollution, by 100 million tons of carbon pollution per year - the equivalent to the emissions of 17 million cars.

The bill is opposed by consumer groups, utilities, the industry, the Obama Administration, unions, and environmental groups - including Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, American Lighting Association, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, National Association of State Energy Officials, National Association of Energy Service Companies, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Johnson Controls Inc., Philips Electronics, United Technologies Corporation, United Steelworkers, Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for Energy Efficiency Economy, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Fund. 

What the lighting industry, Republicans, and descendants of Thomas Edison are saying:

  • Jim Haworth, CEO of Lighting Science Group Corp: “Energy efficiency is the most powerful and cost-effective tool for achieving a sustainable future. Improvements can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, improve consumer welfare and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” 
  • Randall Moorhead, Vice President of Government Affairs at Philips: “When [the Energy Policy and Conservation Act] was passed, it was passed by people who knew how to make light bulbs… Everyone supported it. And since then, it's created more choice for consumers…”  “The economics work out extremely well for the consumer.”
  • Former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) has said … [with this bill] “We'll be dropping backwards in America's need to become more energy efficient… It will be a signal that we are not taking seriously our overall energy problem.  [7/8
  • David Edison Sloane Great-grandson of Thomas Edison:  “My great-grandfather … would have immediately embraced the challenge of reducing the power usage of the incandescent light bulb -- and regarded it as a great opportunity to offer consumers a better …product.'