WASHINGTON – Aiming to keep the focus on climate change legislation, President Obama is ready to talk about making lamps and lighting equipment use less energy.
On Monday afternoon, Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu plan to disclose that $346 million in economic stimulus money will help improve energy efficiency in new and existing commercial buildings.
The White House added the event to the president's schedule at the last minute, just three days after the House narrowly approved the first energy legislation ever designed to curb global warming. The measure's fate is less certain in the Senate, where Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to block a certain filibuster.
Still, in an interview with a small group of reporters, Obama energy adviser Carol Browner said: "I am confident that comprehensive energy legislation will pass the Senate." But she repeatedly refused to say exactly when the White House expected the Senate to pass the measure, and she wouldn't speculate on whether Obama would have legislation sent to his desk by year's end.
The White House is working to keep energy in the spotlight even as Congress takes a break this week for the July 4 holiday. Obama has spent the past few days pressuring the Senate to follow the House while also seeking to show that the administration is making quick, clear progress on energy reform without legislation.
In February, the president directed the Energy Department to update it's energy conservation standards for everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, lamps and microwave ovens. Laws on the books already required new efficiency standards for household and commercial appliances. But they have been backlogged in a tangle of missed deadlines, bureaucratic disputes and litigation.
At the time, Obama said: "This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,"
The administration already has released new standards on commercial refrigeration.
Lamps are next.
The administration says 7 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. is for lighting, and the new standards, which will take effect in 2012, will cover fluorescent and incandescent lamps and lighting equipment in households and commercial buildings.
The White House says the changes will save enough electricity from 2012 through 2042 to power every home in the U.S. for up to 10 months, and will result in an annual savings for consumers of between $1 billion to $4 billion over that thirty-year period.