When analog TV goes dark in 2009, millions of new set-top converter boxes will switch on. And each one will use energy—even when turned off, in most cases, because of standby power requirements.
Both Congress and the EPA have brushed aside attempts to set efficiency standards for digital TV adapters. But California has instituted its own mandatory requirement.
It shouldn’t be surprising that California is leading the push for environmentally-friendly regulations in this area. The state also leads current efforts in the US to curb greenhouse gas emissions in general, although Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been unclear on exactly how far he is willing to go in setting specific caps on emissions. In both cases, progress is being made despite intense lobbying against the regulations by the affected industries. This opposition comes in spite of some studies that have demonstrating that the planned California regulations could have a beneficial impact on the state’s economy.
Regardless, the lack of more stringent federal regulations in these cases is disappointing, and hopefully the federal government will follow California’s example.