Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat
BATTLE OF THE BULB: States are preparing to fight back as the Trump administration moves to erase Obama-era standards for lightbulbs.
The Department of Energy has proposed new regulations for lightbulbs that would eliminate efficiency standards for half the bulbs on the market.
The move has prompted a backlash from a bipartisan mix of state attorneys general and governors who say it is harmful to the planet and may be illegal.
How states are fighting back: Washington and Colorado passed bills this month designed to backstop the Obama-era standards if the Energy Department proceeds to roll them back, and half a dozen other states are considering similar legislation. Vermont passed such a law as soon as President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules Authorities investigating shooting near Trump resort in Florida Trump: ‘China is dreaming’ Biden, other Dems get elected MORE was elected.
State leaders say they are fighting what they see as an alarming trend under the Trump administration where agencies with an environmental purview are instead rolling back green regulations.
“It’s unfortunate if the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t actually want to protect the environment or that the Department of Energy is not interested in energy efficiency,” said Colorado state Rep. Meg Froelich (D), who sponsored the legislation to commit the state to the Obama-era standards for lightbulbs and other devices. “We don’t want to become a dumping ground for energy inefficient appliances.”
The administration proposal is supported by lightbulb manufacturers, but consumer groups estimate continuing to use less efficient bulbs will cost the average household more than $100 a year and create more pollution as utilities produce energy that otherwise would not be needed.
Is it legal? There are also questions about the legality of the rollback — federal law prohibits backsliding on efficiency standards, barring “decreases [in] the minimum required energy efficiency.”
Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryStates fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules Overnight Energy: Trump moves forward with rule on California drilling | House panel advances bill that resumes participation in Paris climate fund | Perry pressed on ‘environmental justice’ | 2020 Dem proposes climate corps Perry, asked about environmental justice, talks about electricity prices MORE appeared to acknowledge as much in an appearance before Congress Thursday, telling lawmakers portions of the Obama regulation were burdensome but that “you can never back up a standard.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset ‘deepfake’ threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children’s privacy House votes to overturn Trump ObamaCare move Bipartisan lawmakers call on FCC to prioritize 5G security MORE (D-N.J.) grilled Perry, telling the secretary the rollback would “lead to years of unnecessary electricity generation and carbon emissions — just to power inefficient and outdated lightbulbs. It’s unclear who benefits from this, absent a handful of lightbulb manufacturers.”
What’s next? (Likely lawsuits): Governors, attorneys general, and Democratic senators have expressed concern or asked the Energy Department to withdraw the rule entirely. If the agency proceeds with rolling back the standards, they are likely to be hit with lawsuits from a coalition of 16 different states as well as environmental groups.
Vermont passed a law to commit to the Obama-era efficiency standards two years ago amid concern the recently elected Trump administration wouldn’t be as aggressive on energy efficiency.
“We did it to try and convince the Department of Energy and also Congress to not roll any of these standards back,” said state Rep. Kurt McCormack (D), a longtime electrician who sponsored the law there.
Industry pushback: The industry has pushed back against the characterization of the Energy Department proposal as a rollback.
“The idea that we are returning to some by-gone era is nonsense,” Clark R. Silcox, general counsel for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), wrote in a blog post. “Yes, there is still a little way more to go to this lighting market transformation, but this is not the ‘nightmare’ nor is it as ‘bad economically’ that some of our colleagues in the energy efficiency community are portraying.”
Read more on the debate here.
Bulbs aren’t the only issue in the spotlight…
LETTING COMPANIES REWRITE THE RULES? A coalition of green groups, a utility, and consumer advocates are pushing the Department of Energy to hold a hearing on a proposal that would give manufacturers more power to determine the efficiency level of their appliances.
The Energy Department currently sets forth how companies must test their products to determine whether they meet energy efficiency standards, but under a new proposal, companies would be able to develop their own testing procedures.
The rule would apply to everything from refrigerator motors to air conditioners to lightbulbs.
The groups argue the change would essentially let manufacturers write their own rules for testing their products — something that could make certain items seem more energy efficient than they really are and give them a boost over the competition.
More on how greens are pushing back here.
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INVESTIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE: A top Democratic senator is urging a congressional watchdog to investigate multiple ways in which climate change poses a threat to the environment and humans as a means to document the issues for future oversight and bill drafting.
Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Dems challenge Trump UN nominee on climate change | Senators seek probe into head of EPA air office | UN report warns 1 million species threatened by extinction Dem senators call for probe into EPA officials over memo language Biden cements spot as 2020 front-runner MORE (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent five separate letters to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Monday to open up studies into how global warming is affecting areas that the federal government oversees.
The letters, also co-signed by other Democratic senators, ask the GAO to look into how climate change might affect energy infrastructure, nuclear waste storage, flood risk management, Superfund sites and chemical facilities.
Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump court pick confirmed despite no blue slip from Schumer, Gillibrand Overnight Health Care: Trump wants HHS to help Florida with drug imports | Graham calls inaction on drug prices ‘unacceptable’ | Abortion battles heat up with Kavanaugh on Supreme Court Bipartisan pair of senators urges Barr to defend ObamaCare in court MORE (D-W.Va.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthMother’s Day — let’s address the growing childcare crisis Ex-GOP Sen. Kirk registers to lobby Overnight Defense: Top Trump security officials discuss Venezuela options | Trump contradicts advisers on Russia’s role in crisis | Administration renews Iran civil nuclear work waivers MORE (D-Ill.) each also signed a letter. Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHealth care, climate change top issues for Iowans ahead of caucuses: analysis Michael Bennet must find a way to stand out in the crowd Poll: Biden leads 2020 Democratic field by 31 points in South Carolina MORE (D-N.J.), a 2020 presidential candidate, backed the letters calling for a report on Superfund and chemical sites.
The lawmakers’ requests follow the release of the GAO’s biennial High Risk List, which found that neither international nor U.S. efforts to stave off climate change “approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damage to the U.S. economy, environment and human health over the coming decades.”
A FEW OTHER MONDAY TIDBITS:
–President Trump nominated Jeffrey Byard to serve as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The post had been vacant for three months.
-Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump, Senate GOP discuss effort to overhaul legal immigration Study: Tomato prices could soar under new tariff on Mexican imports Trump pulls out rug from GOP on trade MORE (R-Ariz.) wants the Department of the Interior to fill the superintendent position at Grand Canyon National Park, which has been vacant since March.
-Carbon dioxide has hit a record high level.
FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES: We need to secure American energy supply chains before China does, argues David Livingston, deputy director for Climate & Advanced Energy at the Atlantic Council.
ON TAP TONIGHT: Miranda will be at Howard University listening in on a climate rally featuring Green New Deal sponsors Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez compares GOP to Dwight from ‘The Office’ Trump lashes out at Dem talk of ‘constitutional crisis’ ‘Saturday Night Live’ ponders what it would take for Republicans to turn against Trump MORE and Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySanders to join Ocasio-Cortez in headlining Green New Deal rally Monday Ocasio-Cortez talks Warren, Sanders and possible endorsement Hillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset ‘deepfake’ threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children’s privacy MORE. Give her a follow @mirandacgreen if you want live updates.
ON TAP TOMORROW:
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will kick off the morning looking at minerals and rare earth metals while its Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining Legislative Hearing will review a number of bills in the afternoon.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
On subjects from birds to pollution, state scientists are barred from speaking to the Globe, The Boston Globe reports.
Florida governor’s first veto allows local governments to keep banning plastic straws, the Miami Herald reports.
Alaska will study how air quality in Juneau is being affected by cruise ships, the Associated Press reports.
187 countries, but not the U.S., sign plastic waste agreement, we report.
Stories from Monday and the weekend…
Ocasio-Cortez calls Biden’s reported ‘middle ground’ climate policy a ‘dealbreaker’
187 countries sign plastic waste agreement
UN secretary general: Earth ‘not on track’ to limit temperature increases to 1.5 percent
States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules
Bill Nye tees off on climate change skeptics: ‘The planet is on f—ing fire!’
Carbon dioxide hits record high level
Green groups request hearing over energy efficiency testing rule
Top Democrat calls for GAO to investigate climate threat
Trump pick to head FEMA sent to Senate for confirmation
De Blasio threatens Trump Organization with fines over pollution