FTC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Repeal Light Bulb Rule

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed repealing its Light Bulb Rule because the rule's primary goals are achieved by amendments to the FTC's Appliance Labeling Rule. Because of the overlapping requirements of the two rules, the FTC believes that the Light Bulb Rule is no longer necessary and is soliciting public comment on the proposed repeal. The proposed action is part of the Commission's continuing efforts to streamline its oversight of industry activities. Comments will be accepted for 30 days, until March 7.

The Light Bulb Rule, promulgated in July 1970, requires that certain disclosures, such as average initial wattage, average initial lumens and average laboratory life, appear on the packaging of incandescent light bulbs. The rule specifies how the disclosures must be made, requires substantiation for specific claims about light bulbs, and defines what light bulbs are covered. In 1994, pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the Commission amended its Appliance Labeling Rule to specify new labeling requirements for lamp products, such as incandescent (nonreflector) light bulbs, incandescent reflector bulbs, medium screw base compact fluorescent lamps and general service fluorescent tubes. Although there are no direct conflicts between the two rules, there are overlapping requirements for the light bulbs that are covered by both rules:

  • basic disclosures of performance information on package labels (light output, watts, and life) are required by both rules; and
  • test data to substantiate these disclosures are required by both rules.

In 1994, when the Commission issued the lamp amendments to the Appliance Labeling Rule, it announced that it would decide what, if any, further action it should take concerning the Light Bulb Rule. In April 1995, the FTC published in the Federal Register a request for comments concerning the Light Bulb Rule as part of the Commission's regulatory review program. The notice asked whether there is a continuing need for the rule, the economic impact of the rule, and what burdens are placed on entities complying with the rule.

The Commission received nine comments in response to the notice and, based on a comparison of the requirements of the two rules and on the comments received, has now initiated this proceeding to repeal the Light Bulb Rule. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR), which was published in the Federal Register February 6, solicits public comment on a number of questions, such as:

  • How would repealing the Light Bulb Rule affect the specific benefits consumers derive from the rule above and beyond the benefits they derive from the Appliance Labeling Rule?
  • To what extent would repealing the Light Bulb Rule relieve or otherwise affect the burdens experienced by manufacturers in complying with the rule?

The Commission announced it will use streamlined procedures to conduct this proceeding. A hearing will be held only if interested parties request an opportunity to testify. If hearings are scheduled, the FTC will publish a Federal Register notice stating the time, place and procedures to be followed in conducting the hearing. Written comments should be submitted to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room 159, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222. Comments should be identified as "16 CFR Part 409 -- Comment -- Light Bulb Rule." Comments and requests to testify must be submitted by March 7. The Commission vote to initiate the rulemaking proceeding was 5-0.

Copies of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov.

(FTC File No. R511960)

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