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Biden throws out Trump energy policy that added millions of tons of carbon pollution

President Joe Biden’s policy on lightbulbs is projected to save consumers $3 billion per year.

By Oliver Willis - April 26, 2022
Joe Biden

The Department of Energy on Monday announced that it has enacted two federal rules that will ban most energy-inefficient, incandescent lightbulbs in favor of compact fluorescent and LED lightbulbs, a reversal of policies put in place by former President Donald Trump.

“By raising energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, we’re putting $3 billion back in the pockets of American consumers and substantially reducing domestic carbon emissions,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

The department has estimated that the new rules will save consumers about $3 billion once they are fully implemented and that carbon emissions will be decreased by 222 million metric tons over 30 years.

In contrast to old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs, LED bulbs last longer and use energy more efficiently. Sales of LED bulbs have been on the rise over the past decade. Between 2015 and 2020, LED bulbs’ market share more than tripled, from 19% to 60%, while incandescent bulbs’ market share shrank from 21% to 11% over the same period.

The path to the new rules was set by an executive order President Joe Biden signed on his first day in office on Jan. 20, 2021. That order called for an immediate review of actions taken by government agencies during Trump’s time in office from 2017 to 2021 that were “inconsistent” with Biden’s goals of advancing environmental justice and combating climate change. The order said that agencies like the Department of Energy should then “consider suspending, revising, or rescinding” actions enacted by Trump.

In 2017, President Barack Obama’s administration enacted rules that built on 2007 legislation passed by Congress meant to raise energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs. But in September 2019, the Trump administration rolled back those rules and prevented old bulbs from being phased out by January 2020.

That decision was decried by groups like the Alliance to Save Energy, whose president Jason Harke said in a statement at the time that the Trump rules would “saddle the average American household with about $100 in unnecessary energy costs every year.”

Similarly, the Natural Resources Defense Council said the rollback would take the country “back to the 19th century” and described Trump’s actions as “nonsensical.” The group noted that while the decision would hurt consumers and the environment it benefitted a handful of lightbulb manufacturers.

Trump defended his administration’s actions, telling rallygoers in September 2019 that more efficient LED bulbs were “no good” and that when they are in use, “I always look orange.”

The Biden administration has prioritized policies designed to reduce climate change and has pivoted from Trump’s policies which were often crafted to benefit polluters.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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