Attorney General James Sues Trump Administration For Rollback Of Light Bulb Energy Efficiency Standards

Attorney General James Sues Trump Administration for
Rollback of Light Bulb Energy Efficiency Standards

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a coalition of 16 attorneys general and the City of New York, today filed a lawsuit against the Trump’s Department of Energy (DOE) challenging its final rule rolling back energy efficiency standards for certain light bulbs. The lawsuit alleges that the rollback of the energy efficiency requirements for certain light bulbs would unlawfully delay the adoption of energy efficiency goals, undermine state and local energy policy, and increase consumer and environmental costs.

Approximately three billion – or nearly half – of all lighting fixtures and lamps in U.S. homes contain the types of bulbs affected by DOE’s rollback.

“The Trump Administration’s not-so-bright idea to rollback light bulb energy efficiency standards is an obvious attempt to line the pockets of energy executives while simultaneously increasing pollution and raising energy bills for consumers,” said Attorney General James. “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. My office will continue to work with our partner states and municipalities to reverse this action, save New Yorkers money on electricity bills, and cut climate change emissions by reducing the coal and gas burned in power plants.”

The attorneys general’s comments on the DOE rollback proposal, submitted on May 3, 2019, asserted that DOE should maintain the stricter, environmentally sound definitions enacted by the Obama Administration in 2017, which expanded the definition of general service lamps (GSLs) to include seven previously unregulated types of light bulbs. By including those types of bulbs as GSLs, the 2017 definitions subject them to the congressionally-imposed GSL minimum standard of 45 lumens per watt applicable on January 1, 2020. The rollback would remove those light bulbs from the GSL efficiency, costing consumers $12 billion each year in lost electricity savings by 2025, or $100 per household per year.

By reversing the 2017 rules, the DOE is enacting a less stringent standard in violation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). The lawsuit challenges the DOE’s action as arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful under EPCA and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Additionally, the coalition submitted comments opposing DOE’s related proposal to not amend (and strengthen) energy efficiency standards for common pear-shaped incandescent light bulbs. According to DOE’s own analysis, if DOE were to adopt strengthened energy efficiency standards for these bulbs, the net present value of the benefits to the nation would equal up to $4.171 billion.

Joining Attorneys General James and Becerra in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the City of New York.

These matters are being handled for the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau by Assistant Attorneys General Lisa S. Kwong and Timothy Hoffman, under the supervision of Senior Counsel Michael J. Myers and Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. The Environmental Protection Bureau is part of the Division of Social Justice, led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux.