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Light Bulb Industry Welcomes Efficiency Standards as Legislators Seethe

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"You're really anti-choice on every other consumer item that you've listed here, including light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets, you name it," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said to Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency, during a recent congressional hearing on the BULB Act. "You can't go around your house without being told what to buy. You restrict my purchases. You don't care about my choices. You don't care about the consumer, frankly. You raise the cost of all the items with all your rules, all your notions that you know what's best for me."

The Better Use of Light Bulbs, or BULB Act, "would repeal the part of a 2007 law that toughened energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs," according to the Christian Science Monitor.

"I find it insulting that a lot of these products you're going to make us buy – and you won't let us buy what we want to buy," Senator Paul continued. "These things you want us to buy are often made in foreign countries. You ship jobs overseas."

But, far from feeling put-upon themselves, the light bulb industry actually supports the increased regulation introduced during the George W. Bush administration, and argues that new production of fluorescent bulbs has, in fact, led to substantial domestic job creation.

Fred Hauber of Eastern Energy Services says, "This is government regulation that was sorely needed, which also creates jobs."

Stephen Yurek, president of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, asserts that the post-2007 retooling the industry underwent to comply with the new rules added 250,000 stateside manufacturing jobs and a million more maintenance, distribution, and installation positions.

And Kyle Pitsor of the National Electric Manufacturers Association says "the BULB bill would be bad for US light bulb makers, who have already upgraded factories to meet new standards and would face a patchwork of state regulations if the uniform federal 2007 standard were rolled back."

"NEMA does not support its repeal," Pitsor pointed out. "It's a common misunderstanding, but these standards do not ban incandescent bulbs, nor do they mandate the use of compact fluorescent bulbs.... Consumers will still be able to purchase a general service incandescent bulb," which will also be more efficient than the classic incandescent that produces roughly 95% heat and 5% light.

Watch Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, discuss the issue with Bill Loveless of Platt's Energy Week:

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