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updated: 12/16/2011 10:05 AM

Incandescent light bulb spared in spending bill

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  • The 100-watt incandescent light bulb has been spared from a U.S. phase-out in a spending deal reached by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress.

      The 100-watt incandescent light bulb has been spared from a U.S. phase-out in a spending deal reached by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress.
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Bloomberg News

The 100-watt incandescent light bulb has been spared from a U.S. phase-out in a spending deal reached by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress.

Legislation to be considered later today will prohibit the Energy Department from enforcing elimination of the traditional, pear-shaped bulb. Tea Party activists campaigned against the energy efficiency requirement as an example of government overreach.

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Democrats, environmental groups and bulb makers such as General Electric Co. had fought to keep the 2007 law that requires more efficient bulbs starting next year.

"I strongly oppose" the proposed language, Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, said in a Twitter message today. "I hope it's deleted from any final bill that we pass."

The 2007 law effectively phased out the 100-watt incandescent bulb next year by setting efficiency standards it doesn't meet. It would be replaced by compact fluorescent, halogen and light-emitting diode models. Restrictions on other wattages would follow.

Advocates said standards set in the law would save consumers money on their electric bills, and lighting manufacturers said they have already retooled factories to comply. Critics said consumers should still be able to buy the cheaper, familiar incandescent bulb.

The efficiency standards limited the "freedom of average Americans" to purchase whatever type of bulb they wanted, Representative Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, said in an interview today.

Halting the phase-out would jeopardize $12.5 billion in consumer savings by 2020, according to a study by the Washington-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

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