WASHINGTON — "Let there be light," Republicans in the House and Senate are saying — but only if it's the same kind of incandescent light invented by Thomas Alva Edison more than 130 years ago.
Lawmakers have introduced bills calling for the repeal of new lightbulb standards established in 2007 by Congress and President George W. Bush.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 signaled that it will be "lights out" for the old Edison-era incandescent bulbs starting in 2012. The traditional lightbulbs will be replaced with more efficient options that use 25 to 30 percent less energy.
But some Republican lawmakers don't think that Bush's plan is such a bright idea. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has introduced a "Better Use of Light Bulbs Act" (also known at the BULB Act) to stop the law from taking effect. "People don't want Congress dictating what light fixtures they can use," said Barton. The House bill has 50 co-sponsors.
There's a companion measure in the Senate.
But not everyone has joined the fight against the new lightbulb rules.
Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency for the U.S. Energy Department, and representatives of the lightbulb industry, told a recent hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the old bulbs are a dim idea.
The new standards "are projected to save families and businesses money, empower consumers with lighting choices and help protect the environment," Hogan said.
Kyle Pitsor, vice president of government relations for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents 15 companies that sell more than 95 percent of the nation's lightbulbs, said GOP critics have misstated the law. The new regulations "do not ban the use of incandescent lightbulbs, nor do they mandate the use of compact fluorescent lights," Pitsor said. Instead, the rules set higher energy-efficiency requirements on all bulbs.
For example, the new law requires that a 72 watt bulb produce as much light as a 100 watt bulb currently does, which ultimately saves consumers money on their power bills.