Press Release

After Touring Local Light Bulb Manufacturer, Gillibrand Announces New Plan to Fight Efforts to Decimate U.S. Light Bulb Standards, Keep China from Flooding U.S. Markets with Illegal Merchandise

Aug 9, 2012

Bath, NY – After touring a local light bulb manufacturing plant, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her new plan to fight efforts to prevent the Department of Energy from enforcing the incandescent light bulb standard. The standard has been in effect since January 1, 2012, and promotes the use of more efficient electricity by requiring bulbs to use at least 28 percent less electricity for the same light output.  All major U.S. light bulb manufacturers produce bulbs that meet this standard and they have been available to consumers since late-2011. Senator Gillibrand warned that preventing the enforcement of this law would enable Chinese businesses to export illegal light bulbs into the U.S., undercutting U.S. manufacturers who spent millions of dollars on new manufacturing plants and technology. 

“The light bulb standards have created new jobs right here in New York and across the country while helping families cut their energy costs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By creating this loophole, China and other countries would be allowed to flood U.S. markets will illegal light bulbs. These standards are a commonsense measure to support innovative U.S. manufacturing and build our energy independence, and must be enforced.” 

The House Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations spending bill currently includes a provision that would prevent the U.S. Department of Energy from enforcing the light bulb standard. This new standard requires that bulbs use less energy to produce the same amount of light, and American manufacturers have developed new technologies to continue to produce incandescent light bulbs that are more energy efficient and last longer than traditional bulbs but still produce the same type of light consumers expect.  In her letter to Senate leaders, Senator Gillibrand explained that there would be devastating effects if the provision barring enforcement of the standard remains in the bill. The House provision would create a loophole that enables Chinese businesses and other foreign manufacturers to flood illegal light bulbs into U.S. markets, undercutting local manufacturers who have developed and invested in this new technology.    

Illegal, less efficient, Chinese bulbs on the U.S. market would increase consumer’s energy bills.  The current standard enforced by the DOE saves the average American family $100 per year, approximately $12 billion nationwide.  The new technology also means compliant bulbs last longer than their predecessors, meaning they have to be replaced less often creating further savings over the long term.  These savings will be eliminated if less efficient, foreign light bulbs continue to be allowed to circumvent the standard.   

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter is below:

Dear Chairmen Inouye and Feinstein:

I write to you as a Senator from a state which has jobs directly connected to the manufacture of high-efficiency light bulbs. The House-passed Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations spending bill (H.R.5325) includes a provision that would prevent the Department of Energy from enforcing the incandescent light bulb standards that came into effect on January 1, 2012 to promote the production and use of high-efficiency light bulbs. I vigorously oppose this House provision because it would cost jobs, hurt investment, and prevent consumer savings in in New York and across the country and I urge you to ensure it is not included in any upcoming appropriations agreement.  

U.S. light bulb and light bulb-component manufacturers, such as those located in New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, are committed to complying with U.S. law even if DOE is prohibited from spending funds to enforce the law. The House provision, however, would open the door for unscrupulous foreign businesses to import illegal bulbs into the U.S. market and compete with legally-compliant U.S. manufacturers. This would undercut American manufacturers who have invested millions of dollars in U.S. plants. The House provision costs jobs in New York and aids foreign companies.

Much of the debate over light bulb standard is based on the claim that this standard bans incandescent bulbs. This claim is false. There is no ban on incandescent bulbs – this standard simply requires, starting after January 1, 2012, that the bulbs use at least 28 percent less electricity for the same light output. All major U.S. light bulb manufacturers produce bulbs that meet the new standard, have the same performance as the traditional bulb, and have been available in stores since late-2011.

At a time when families are struggling with high energy costs, more efficient lighting will save the average American family around $100 every year (about $12 billion nationwide).  New lighting technology will save enough energy annually to power all the homes in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, improve national electric grid reliability, and reduce pollution.

I am proud that my state is playing a role in the production of new, energy efficient light bulbs that creates jobs, and offers consumers more choices and more savings. I urge you to vigorously oppose this House-passed “no funds for enforcement” provision because it undercuts energy savings, prevents consumer savings, and hurts American manufacturing by benefitting foreign competitors, resulting in a loss of jobs in New York and communities across the nation.