Energy Efficiency Wounded, Not Killed, By Light Bulb Attack

December 22nd, 2019 by  


Whenever prominent Republicans say really weird things about the internal workings of the female body, it’s a sure bet that an attack on energy efficiency standards for light bulbs is in the works. No, really! Strange but true! That was the pattern all through the Obama administration, when the topic of fetal masturbation somehow became entwined with new lighting technology. Now the talk has turned to hymens right at a critical moment for the future of LEDs.

energy efficiency from LEDs

Energy Efficiency & The Light Bulb Wars

To begin with the light bulb thing, during the Bush administration Congress passed a bill aimed at weaning the citizenry off their dependence on old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs.

President Bush signed the bill into law in 2007, but the new standards didn’t begin to phase in until 2012, after former President Obama took office.

Oh boy, did that touch off howls of protest from Republican politicians concerned about freedom of choice. Suddenly it seemed that the right to pick out light bulbs signified a whole slew of other fundamental rights of great import to all Americans.

The new law in fact did not dictate what kind of bulb people could choose to screw into their sockets. It only required manufacturers to come up with new technology to meet the new standards. But, whatever.

Full Steam Ahead On Energy Efficiency…Or Not

The brouhaha over the new standards eventually died down, and the Energy Department forged ahead with its energy efficiency mission. As the days of the Obama administration wound down in January 2017, the agency rolled out additional rules for light bulbs. That included new rules to cover certain types of specialty lighting that were previously exempted.

This stepped-up energy efficiency effort was targeted by the recently impeached President* Trump soon after he took office, and the Energy Department began taking action to roll back the new standards.

That brings us up to last Friday, when the Energy Department finally announced that it finalized a rule pulling back the January 2017 efficiency standards.

Talk about your Friday news dump!

Oddly enough, in a press release announcing the efficiency rollback, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette actually gave a shout-out to the initial standards. He made a point of explaining that the US lighting industry had already achieved significant gains in both energy efficiency and affordability “without federal government intervention.”

Energy Efficiency, Rules Or No Rules

Ummm…about that government intervention, Brouillette seems to have forgotten all about the 2007 law that sparked the whole thing.

Likewise, the Energy Department press release does not acknowledge that recent innovations in the area of lighting technology were directly sparked by government intervention. Nevertheless, the press release also makes it clear that the prospects are good for increasing the use of new technology, rules or no rules:

“Due in part to more than a decade of innovative, early-stage research and development in energy-efficient lighting, the average cost of light-emitting diodes (LED) light bulbs has dropped by nearly 90% since 2008. Over that same period, total installations of home LEDs has increased from 100,000 to nearly 202 million.

“DOE expects that progress to continue in the absence of more stringent standards for GSILs.”

The press release also refers readers to a new Energy Department study titled, “Energy Savings Forecast of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications,” which finds that “due to continued technological innovation, LED bulbs and luminaires are anticipated to hold the vast majority of lighting installations by 2035, comprising 84% of all applications, up from 20% today and 1% in 2010.”

The press release further notes that “LED lighting already offers 1.1 quads of energy savings in 2017 (equivalent to the annual energy consumption of over 14 million average U.S. households), and if LED lighting installations continue at the current pace, a total annual energy savings of 4.8 quads is possible by 2035.”

…Or Maybe Not-Not

All in all, the Trump administration seems to be implying that people who refuse to buy new lighting tech are being kind of stupid because there are cost and value-added advantages in the energy savings. Still, in the press release Brouillette emphasized that thing about free choice, stating that as a result of the rollback “the American people will continue to have a choice on how they light their homes.”

That certainly provided a bit of a bright spot for the recently impeached President. He made much of the choice thing in a television appearance with Brouillette over the weekend, and the White House Twitter account merrily tweeted, “if you like your lightbulbs, you can keep your lightbulbs! The Obama Admin tried to limit Americans to buying more-expensive LED bulbs for their homes—but thanks to [the impeached President], go ahead and decorate your house with whatever lights you want.”

Well, enjoy it while it lasts. The environmental law organization Earthjustice is among those filing suit to get the 2017 standards rolling again. CleanTechnica is reaching out to them for an update on next steps, so stay tuned for that.

Virginity, Hymens, And Energy Efficient Standards For Light Bulbs

Coincidentally or not, while the light bulb wars were coming to a head this month, the ongoing attack on women’s physical autonomy also reached fever pitch. Last week the citizens of Kentucky awoke to discover that their former Governor, Republican Matt Bevin, pardoned a child rapist as one of his last acts in office.

By way of explanation, Bevin explained to the listeners of Kentucky’s WHAS radio during an interview last Thursday that the 9-year-old victim must have lied.

Other news organizations soon opened up that conversation soon to a wider audience. Kentucky public radio station WPFAS led off with the headline, “Bevin Defends Child Rapist Pardon With Hymen Myth,” and it all went downhill from there:

“’Both their hymens were intact,’ Bevin said of the victim and her sister. ‘This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically.’

Ya don’t say?!

For that matter, near the end of his term last August Bevin signed a quartet of new bills into law that collectively deny the ability of women to control their reproductive future.

When it comes to clean power and energy efficiency, though, control is a good thing.

“We have come to the conclusion that it is in the commonwealth’s best interest that we retain control of our own energy future,” Bevin said a while back, explaining why he rejected former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Got it.

Anyways, it looks like the message from the White House is that we should all enjoy our freedom to make bad decisions about light bulbs, as kind of a consolation prize for losing freedom of choice over the rest of our lives.

Merry Christmas to you, too.

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*Developing story.

Image (screenshot): via US Department of Energy. 
 
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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.