WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled U.S House of Representatives Friday passed a measure that would block the enforcement of light bulb efficiency standards set in 2007.
The fate of the measure remains uncertain, with passage unlikely in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Many U.S. conservatives oppose the 2007 efficiency standards as an unwarranted government interference in the lives of Americans, even though they were signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush.
The new Republican-backed measure, passed as an amendment to a broader energy bill, would block the U.S. government from spending funds to implement the phasing out of light bulbs that are not up to the energy efficiency standards set by the 2007 law.
That law is not a blanket ban on incandescent light bulbs, but mandates higher energy-efficiency standards. Under the law, old-fashioned 100-watt incandescent bulbs would be banned in January 2012, followed in consecutive years by 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs.
U.S. Representative Michael Burgess, a Republican who sponsored the amendment, said it was about protecting Americans' freedom of choice. "This is about the consumer driving the market, not the federal government deciding the market," Burgess said in a statement following House passage of the measure.
New incandescent bulbs manufactured by companies in line with the 2007 standards have been criticized by House Republicans for being more expensive and a health hazard.
The Obama administration has maintained that the new energy-efficient bulbs are safe and will help cut electricity bills even though they cost a little more.
"It's up to the Senate to see the light and remove this anti-consumer, pro-pollution amendment that would block enforcement of modern efficiency standards," said Daniel Weiss, an energy policy expert at the Center for American Progress Action Fund think tank.
(Editing by Will Dunham)
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