EarthTalk: What was the BULB Act pertaining
to light bulb energy efficiency that just failed to pass
in the House of Representatives?
—Betsy Edgerton, Columbus, OH
efficiency requirements for light bulbs may sound
the death knell for incandescents, which have not
changed significantly since Thomas Edison invented
them in 1879. Newer, more efficient styles cost
more but could save consumers some $6 billion in
annual energy costs by 2015 -- while also eliminating
the equivalent of 30 large power plants' electrical
output and 14 million cars worth of carbon emissions.
© Hemera Collection
Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act (H.R. 2417) was a failed
attempt in July 2011 by some Republicans in the House to
repeal a 2007 law mandating increased efficiency for light
bulbs sold anywhere in the U.S. Sponsors of the bill cited
the 2007 bulb efficiency requirements—whereby light
bulbs must be 25 to 30 percent more efficient by 2014 and
then as much as 60 percent more efficient by 2020—as
a key example of how government overreaches its authority.
2010 elections demonstrated that Americans are fed up with
government intrusion,” said Representative Joe Barton,
the Texas Republican who proposed the repeal. “The
federal government has crept so deep into our lives that
federal agencies now determine what kind of light bulbs
the American people are allowed to purchase.” It’s
ironic that the new standards were put in place by Republican
President George W. Bush as part of his Energy Independence
and Security Act of 2007, a sweeping update of the country’s
energy policy. At the time, the bill, including the provisions
about light bulb efficiency, enjoyed widespread bi-partisan
fact that the BULB Act couldn’t muster enough votes
in the Republican-controlled House to pass by the required
two-thirds majority shows that even many conservative lawmakers
would rather have the country save money and energy than
waste it unnecessarily on inefficient lighting. The repeal
effort did garner 233 votes, but the 193 opposed were more
than enough to override it given House rules.
Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip in the House,
derided the sponsors of the repeal attempt for focusing
on the wrong priorities in these dire economic times. “By
bringing misguided bills like this one to the floor instead
of a comprehensive jobs plan, it is clear that House Republicans
are still in the dark.”
the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and General
Electric came out against repealing the increased efficiency
standards, given the strides industry has made in recent
years to roll with the punches and design more efficient
bulbs, fixtures and electricity distribution methods.
wonder if the 2007 efficiency requirements will sound the
death knell for incandescent bulbs, which have not changed
significantly since first invented by Thomas Edison in 1879.
While newer, more efficient styles of bulbs—from compact
fluorescents (CFLs) to halogens to light-emitting diodes
(LEDs)—may be significantly more expensive than their
incandescent counterparts (by as much as a factor of 50!),
consumers will likely make up the difference and then some
over the long term as energy savings accrue. The Department
of Energy estimates that the switchover to newer, more efficient
bulbs will save American households upwards of $50 per year
by 2015, or some $6 billion in the aggregate.
Besides saving money, the new standards will save the amount
of electricity generated by more than 30 large power plants,
according to the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy (ASE).
As for global warming, the new standards promise to save
carbon emissions equaling the removal of 14 million cars
off the road.
EarthTalk: What’s the gist of the recent
agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and
the federal government regarding adding many more plants
and animals to the Endangered Species List?
—J.J. Scarboro, Tallahassee, FL
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is evaluating 757
imperiled plant and animal species to determine
if they should be added to the federal Endangered
Species List by 2018. Among the wildlife getting
a closer look is the walrus, pictured here.
in question forces the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
to make initial or final decisions on whether to grant some
757 imperiled plant and animal species protection under
the Endangered Species Act over the next six years. In exchange,
the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a leading advocacy
group devoted to animal and plant conservation, will withdraw
its legal opposition to a May 2011 agreement between USFWS
and another conservation group, Wildlife Guardians. CBD
argued that the agreement with Wildlife Guardians was too
weak, unenforceable and missing key species in need of protection.
The new agreement, if approved by the U.S. District Court
as submitted in July 2011, would make many of the provisions
of the old agreement obsolete.
and conservationists have a critical role to play in identifying
endangered species and developing plans and priorities to
save them. The extinction crisis is too big—too pressing—to
rely on government agencies alone,” says Kieran Suckling,
executive director of CBD.
CBD reports that
the work plan under the new agreement will enable USFWS
to move forward with systematically reviewing and addressing
the needs of hundreds of species to determine if they should
be added to the federal Endangered Species List by 2018.
Some of the species in question that will get a closer look—and
which CBD hopes are “fast-tracked” for protection—include
the walrus, the wolverine, the Mexican gray wolf, the New
England cottontail rabbit, three species of sage grouse,
the scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (‘I’iwi),
the California golden trout, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout
and the Miami blue butterfly, among others.
The 757 species
up for listing consideration span every taxonomic group—including
26 birds, 31 mammals, 67 fish, 13 reptiles, 42 amphibians,
197 plants and 381 invertebrates—and occur in all
50 states and several Pacific Island territories. Alabama,
Georgia and Florida are home to the majority of the species
(149, 121 and 115 in each respectively). Hawaii, Nevada,
California, Washington and Oregon each play host to dozens
of unlisted imperiled species as well.
West Coast, Hawaii and Southwest are America’s extinction
hot spots,” says Suckling. “Most of the species
lost in the past century lived there, and most of those
threatened with extinction in the next decade live there
the agreement a big win and a key piece of its decade-long
campaign to safeguard 1,000 of the nation’s most imperiled,
least protected plant and animal species. Some two-thirds
of the species listed in the agreement were not previously
considered to be candidates for protection for USFWS. “This
corresponds with the conclusion of numerous scientists and
scientific societies that the extinction crisis is vastly
greater than existing federal priority systems and budgets,”
for Biological Diversity; United
States Fish and Wildlife Service; Wildlife
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