FTC Turns Out the Lights on 1970 Light Bulb Rule

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The Federal Trade Commission has repealed its Trade Regulation Rule Concerning the Incandescent Lamp (Light Bulb) Industry, the eighth Trade Regulation Rule the Commission has repealed in the last several months. The FTC has determined that because of its more comprehensive lamp labeling rules adopted in 1994 under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and current industry light bulb marking practices, the Light Bulb Rule is no longer necessary or in the public interest. This action is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to review its guidelines and rules, and to eliminate those that are obsolete or duplicative. A notice announcing repeal of the Light Bulb Rule appears in the June 27 Federal Register.

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 non-reflector light bulbs, as well as that manufacturers mark bulbs with voltage and wattage information. The rule specifies how the disclosures must be made and requires substantiation for certain claims. In 1994, pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the Commission amended its Appliance Labeling Rule to specify new labeling requirements for incandescent light bulbs, incandescent reflector bulbs, medium screw base compact fluorescent lamps and general service fluorescent tubes. Although there are no direct conflicts between the Appliance Labeling and Light Bulb Rules, there are overlapping requirements for the incandescent light bulbs that are covered 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 comment concerning the Light Bulb Rule as part of the Commission's regulatory review program. The notice asked for comments on whether there is a continuing need for the rule, the economic impact of the rule, and the burdens that are placed on entities complying with the rule. In February of this year, the FTC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) to repeal the Light Bulb Rule, soliciting public comment on a number of additional questions.

The Commission received five comments in response to the NPR (two from manufacturers, two from distributors, and one comment from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association). Four of the comments support repeal of the Light Bulb Rule. One comment recommends that the Commission repeal the lamp labeling rules under the Appliance Labeling Rule.

Based on a review of the comments on the record and a comparison of the requirements of the Light Bulb Rule and the lamp labeling requirements of the Appliance Labeling Rule, the Commission determined the Light Bulb Rule was no longer necessary or in the public interest.

The Commission vote to repeal the Light Bulb Rule was 5-0.

Copies of the Federal Register notice, as well as other documents associated with this matter, 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)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Howard Shapiro,
Office of Public Affairs,
Staff Contact:
Elaine D. Kolish, or Kent C. Howerton,
Bureau of Consumer Protection,
202-326-3042,or 202-326-3013