Green Groups, States, Challenge Trump's Lightbulb Rollback

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(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration’s move to rollback energy-use requirements for billions of lightbulbs is being challenged in court by environmental groups and states such as California and New York.

Dual lawsuits filed in federal appeals court in Manhattan seek to block the Energy Department from withdrawing an Obama-era requirement that requires bulbs commonly used in recessed lighting, track lighting, bathroom vanities and decorative fixtures meet the same energy efficiency standards that effectively phased out the traditional incandescent bulb.

The standards, which had been scheduled to take effect in January 2020, applied to roughly half of the six billion lightbulbs in use today, and would save consumers billions of dollars in energy costs and avoid millions of tons in carbon dioxide emissions, according to environmental groups backing the rules.

The move to expand the lightbulb standards was finalized in the waning days of former President Barack Obama’s administration and stems from energy legislation that passed in 2007 and was signed into law by President George W. Bush and has led to a dramatic increase in the use of LED lightbulbs.

“It’s outrageous that the Department of Energy turned its back on the law passed by a bipartisan Congress and supported by industry more than 12 years ago to ensure our lighting is as energy efficient as possible,” said Kit Kennedy, senior director of NRDC’s climate and clean energy program. “It’s not only illegal to backtrack on energy efficiency standards, the United States will become the dumping ground for the inefficient incandescent and halogen models already banned in Europe and being phased out by countries around the world.”

The Energy Department didn’t respond to a request for comment. In the rule, the agency said the lightbulb standards had been expanded under Obama “in a manner that is not consistent with the best reading of the statute,” and that the change “does not prevent consumers from from buying the lamps they desire.”

The lawsuit, which couldn’t immediately be confirmed in court records, was filed by environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and Environment America, said Pat Remick, an NRDC spokeswoman.

A separate lawsuit was filed by the states of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York, according to the office of New York’s attorney general.

“The United States cannot and will not be the exception to the international movement to phase out the inefficient, unnecessary, and costly use of incandescent bulbs,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

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