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Pallone and Thomas Edison Descendant Denounce Trump Administration’s Roll Back of Lightbulb Efficiency Standards

June 6, 2019
Press Release
Trump’s corporate giveaway will increase consumer electricity bills by $12 billion a year

EDISON, N.J. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Barry Edison Sloane, Thomas Edison’s great-grandson, held a press conference to condemn the Trump Administration’s rollback of lightbulb efficiency standards that reduce energy consumption and save consumers billions of dollars each year. They were joined by Ed Potosnak with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

In 2007, Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed into law, lightbulb efficiency standards that required manufacturers to begin producing lightbulbs that use less energy. In 2017, the Obama Administration updated the guidelines to require additional bulb types – including three-way reflector, globe-shaped, and candelabra-style bulbs – adhere to the same efficiency standards as pear-shaped bulbs. In February, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced it would disregard this update. It is estimated that the rollback would increase consumers’ electricity bills by $12 billion a year by the year 2025.

In March, Pallone held a hearing in his Committee’s Energy Subcommittee on the Department of Energy’s inaction on efficiency standards and its impact on consumers and climate change. Pallone serves as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“This reckless rollback will lead to years of unnecessary electricity generation and carbon emissions – just to power inefficient and outdated lightbulbs. Trashing this important standard will also increase consumers’ electricity bills by allowing inefficient products to remain on the market, something that is absolutely unnecessary,” Congressman Pallone said. “I would like to thank Barry Edison Sloane, a descendant of Thomas Edison, and Ed Potosnak who joined me today to call on this administration to follow the energy guidelines set by Congress and signed into law.”

The New Jersey congressman pointed to the fact that last month 37 electric utilities sent a letter to DOE opposing the lightbulb rollback. 

“My great-grandfather, Thomas Edison, believed that all inventions, including the lightbulb, could and should be improved over time. In fact, he had over 20 patents on the incandescent lightbulb: each one an improvement. Thanks to new technology, the newer lightbulbs are more energy efficient, lessen our carbon footprint, and save consumers money – innovations he would have championed,” said Barry Edison Sloane, great-grandson of Thomas Edison. “It’s unacceptable that the Department of Energy now intends to disregard commonsense innovations that have already been embraced in 80 countries and the U.S. for over a decade. Edison would have agreed that, given the urgency climate change presents, this kind of action is like throwing gasoline on our burning house. I think my great grandfather might have had something to say about this, like, ‘Who’s the dim bulb who came up with this idea and why?’”  

“I applaud Congressman Frank Pallone for continuing to stand up to Trump’s dangerous and ill-informed deregulatory agenda. Today, we stand together to call attention to a roll back of the federal lightning standard that could cost consumers billions, increase air pollution, and take us ten steps back in addressing the climate crisis,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Federal light bulb standards may seem like a small thing, but in fact they have enormous impacts on our wallets and our environment. These senseless attacks on smart and widely effective energy efficiency programs only further advances dangerous deregulatory attacks on our economy and environment.”

Beyond the rollback of the lightbulb efficiency standards, the DOE has also ignored the law by refusing to finalize or update efficiency standards for 17 products, including refrigerators, washing machines and room air conditioners.