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June 2012 | See all news in this issue

Light bulbs and showerheads…

What do light bulbs and showerheads have in common? They’re both the subject of federal regulations aimed at promoting conservation of resources…energy in the case of incandescent light bulbs and water in the case of showerheads. And in both cases, these regulations are under repeated attack from conservative lawmakers who believe the federal government has no role in such matters.

The latest effort to repeal these regulations came as the House of Representatives recently considered a $32.1 billion appropriations bill for energy and water-development programs. House Republicans overwhelmingly approved amendments to the legislation that would prohibit the enforcement of energy efficiency rules for light bulbs and rules requiring water flow regulators in shower heads.

While it’s unlikely that the Senate will go along with these amendments, the push and pull that surrounds such regulations creates uncertainty about the rules that businesses must follow. And it's this confusion that makes planning difficult, if not impossible. The businesses which manufacture, distribute, sell and install regulated products don’t always know which products they can legally make or use. And the uncertainty gives an unfair advantage to foreign manufacturers who are willing to sell non-complying products in the U.S.

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