Press Release

Sixteen Attorneys General Applaud Next Efficiency Step for Lightbulbs

AGs urge DOE to include certain lightbulb types in future energy efficiency standards.

New York, N.Y. — A coali­tion of 16 attor­neys gen­er­al led by New York Attor­ney Gen­er­al Leti­tia James filed com­ments yes­ter­day in sup­port of the Depart­ment of Energy’s (DOE) pro­pos­al to amend its def­i­n­i­tions of gen­er­al ser­vice lamps and gen­er­al ser­vice incan­des­cent lamps. Call­ing the changes long over­due,” the coali­tion not­ed that if adopt­ed, the changes could save bil­lions of dol­lars in ener­gy costs and avoid mil­lions of met­ric tons of green­house gas emis­sions annu­al­ly.” The AGs urge DOE to final­ize the action and issue a deter­mi­na­tion that the statute’s back­stop” effi­cien­cy stan­dard applies to these bulbs. 

This action illu­mi­nates the ener­gy sav­ings poten­tial of the ener­gy effi­cien­cy pro­gram,” said Jes­si­ca Bell, Deputy Direc­tor of the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter. It’s time to ensure that con­sumers and the envi­ron­ment ben­e­fit from more robust require­ments for this com­mon con­sumer prod­uct.”

Our nation’s ener­gy effi­cien­cy pro­gram is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of any plan to com­bat cli­mate change and pro­tect our plan­et,” said Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob Bon­ta in a state­ment high­light­ing sev­er­al sets of recent com­ments to DOE on effi­cien­cy stan­dards. Ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards are a win-win, sav­ing con­sumers and small busi­ness­es mon­ey on their elec­tric­i­ty bills, while also help­ing save the plan­et. I sup­port the Depart­ment of Energy’s efforts to reverse Trump-era reg­u­la­tions that under­mined this pro­gram. There’s no time left to waste. We must get this pro­gram back on track.”

Back­ground — In Jan­u­ary 2017, the Depart­ment of Ener­gy (DOE), pur­suant to a con­gres­sion­al direc­tive in the Ener­gy Inde­pen­dence and Secu­ri­ty Act, released two rules that broad­ened the def­i­n­i­tions of gen­er­al ser­vice lamps (GSL) and gen­er­al ser­vice incan­des­cent lamps (GSIL) to make a num­ber of dif­fer­ent light­bulb types more ener­gy-effi­cient, and to grad­u­al­ly phase out less effi­cient ones by Jan­u­ary 2020. But in Feb­ru­ary 2019, before the rules took effect, DOE issued a notice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing to rede­fine GSLs and GSILs. These new def­i­n­i­tions exclud­ed almost three bil­lion com­mon­ly used lamps from effi­cien­cy stan­dards that would have an asso­ci­at­ed reduc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions (GHG) by con­serv­ing 80 bil­lion kilo­watt-hours of elec­tric­i­ty, which is approx­i­mate­ly equiv­a­lent to the amount of GHGs emit­ted by over 12 mil­lion cars a year. In addi­tion, the stan­dards would have brought sav­ings to con­sumers of at least $12 bil­lion annu­al­ly, as stat­ed in com­ments filed by a six­teen AG coali­tion. Despite the con­cerns voiced by state attor­neys gen­er­al and oth­ers, DOE final­ized the rule, with­draw­ing the Jan­u­ary 2017 definitions. 

In response, Cal­i­for­nia AG Xavier Becer­ra and New York AG Leti­tia James led a coali­tion of six­teen AGs in fil­ing a peti­tion for review to chal­lenge the final rule. They argued that DOE vio­lat­ed the Ener­gy Pol­i­cy Con­ser­va­tion Act, which pro­hibits the agency from revers­ing or weak­en­ing ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards already set for appli­ances (includ­ing light­bulbs). The case is cur­rent­ly being held in abeyance.

In August 2021, under the guid­ance of the Biden admin­is­tra­tion, the Ener­gy Depart­ment pro­posed to restore the 2017 def­i­n­i­tions, which would expand the scope of light­bulbs con­sid­ered in a future standard. 

The attor­neys gen­er­al of Cal­i­for­nia, Col­orado, Illi­nois, Maine, Mass­a­chu­setts, Mary­land, Michi­gan, Min­neso­ta, Neva­da, New Jer­sey, New Mex­i­co, Ore­gon, Ver­mont, Wash­ing­ton, Wash­ing­ton D.C., and the City of New York joined AG James in fil­ing yesterday’s com­ments.

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About the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter
The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter at the NYU School of Law is a non-par­ti­san aca­d­e­m­ic cen­ter ded­i­cat­ed to the study and sup­port of state attor­neys gen­er­al in their work defend­ing and pro­mot­ing clean ener­gy, cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal laws and policies.