Joe Barton: Wants To Turn Out The Lights on Common Sense

Congressman to block efficiency gains and phase-out of old light bulbs

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Joe Barton (R-TX) is proving that he has better things to do than apologize to Tony Hayward and BP. Now, he is trying to repeal energy efficiency standards that save American citizens billions of dollars every year. These standards, ironically, are among the few environmental policies made in eight years of Bush leadership. 

His latest daft idea is to propose legislation to wipe away huge national energy efficiency gains and block energy efficiency standards which have been on the books since 2007 and in the works well before that. These efficiency standards for light bulbs, which were reached as a part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, had strong support from a coalition of light bulb manufacturers, electric utilities, as well as the Bush administration.

Last week Barton, the top recipient of Big Oil funds in Congress and the top recipient of special interest money from fossil fuel industries, introduced a new bill that goes against the work and support of his own party in proclaimed defense of industry in America, despite the fact that the industry itself actually supported and helped reach these standards. 

His bill, which he has named the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, would undo these efficiency standards by striking the section of the Energy Independence and Security Act which legislates a national phase-out of the most inefficient light bulbs on the market in favor of much more efficient technology.

These standards have been on track to save American consumers $18 billion per year in utilities bills as well as save as much energy as is produced by 80 coal-fired power plants each year, but Mr. Barton seems determined to prevent those savings.

His misguided press release announcing this legislation says his aim is to save American jobs from being shipped overseas — but these jobs were lost to China years previously when the country advanced its manufacturing of newer — ahem — more efficient lighting technology and surpassed American production in this market. Read Kate Sheppard’s Mother Jones piece for more info on this.

Instead of promoting common-sense energy efficiency savings that put money back into the pockets of American consumers, bolster innovation and provide stability and predictability for manufacturers who favor a national standard, he’d like to fight for the right of all Americans to have old, outdated, inefficient products that cost them extra money and that are quickly becoming relics in the global market.






Liz Judge worked at Earthjustice from 2010–2016. During that time, she worked on mountaintop removal mining, national forests, and clean water issues, and led the media and advocacy communications teams.