“In 2007, little seemed problematic about the energy-efficient light bulb or the law signed by President George W. Bush, which called for the incandescent bulb to be phased out in favor its energy-saving counterpart. But that was before the rise of the Tea Party”.
So begins an article by Natasha Lennard in Salon
Why is the Tea Party suddenly obsessed with light bulbs?
by Natasha Lennard of Salon
In 2007, little seemed problematic about the energy-efficient light bulb or the law signed by President George W. Bush, which called for the incandescent bulb to be phased out in favor its energy-saving counterpart. But that was before the rise of the Tea Party.
Suddenly, saving the old-fashioned 100-watt bulb — which wastes most of the energy it consumes and costs households more in energy bills than the new model — has become a matter of personal liberty. And so, House Republicans on Monday will seek to repeal the 2007 law, which calls for the phaseout to begin in January 2012.
The law has been dubbed “the light bulb ban” by activists on the right and has struck a Tea Party nerve. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann have all called it government intrusion par excellence. It essentially mandates that no new bulbs can go on the market after January ’12 without meeting a new, higher standard of energy efficiency. Bulbs that don’t meet the standard but that are already in stores won’t be taken off shelves.
“It is one of those issues out there that just inflames people,” Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, co-sponsor of the bill that would reverse the phaseout, told Politico. “What in the world were you doing restricting the kinds of light bulbs in my home?”
Of course, you could also craft an argument that the law is fiscally conservative. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Analysis shows the standards [of the 2007 light bulb law] would save the country more than $12.5 billion annually when fully implemented in 2020.”
Energy Secretary Steven Chu showed little sympathy for libertarian stalwarts, when in a press conference on the issue he bluntly said, “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.”
And in an opinion piece for The Hill, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., put the bulb debate in much needed context: “We’ve got big fights ahead, with real disagreements that will require us to find some common ground — like how to get our financial house in order, how to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and how to reform our education system. If Republicans and Democrats can’t come together on more efficient light bulbs, I have little hope of us tackling the bigger issues.”
And, of course, Texas was right in there leading the charge. On June 17th, Governor Perry signed into law HB 2510 (Relating to exempting the intrastate manufacture of certain incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation). Check out our earlier blog
about why this legislation is such a futile fist-shaking at the federal government and really, not in the best interest of consumers. And check out this article in the LA Times
, poking fun at Texas for their new battle cry “Remember the Incandescent Bulb”.
The article concludes with musings by one of our own – “And for all the hoopla over the Texas law, there is virtually no chance in the near future that residents of Lone Star State will be able to buy a state-made incandescent,” said David Power, deputy director of the Public Citizen office in Texas.
“We don’t mine tungsten in Texas,” Power said. “So there is no place where they can get a Texas-made filament” for bulbs.
Way to make a statement Texas!
And if that wasn’t enough . . .
Texas’ Congressman Joe Barton took this fight to Capital Hill. The measure was defeated, but not before it became the delight of comedian’s across the country.
Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart slammed House Republicans relitigating a fight over incandescent light bulbs while the country was on the brink of default.
“I just want to make this clear,” Stewart said. “They aren’t fighting about light bulb standards. They are re-fighting a light bulb standards fight that we settled in 2007. We’re three weeks away from having to park our country down the street so China can’t find it and these yutzes are relitigating incandescent v. florescent.”
Watch this video from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, broadcast July 12, 2011.
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Last week, Public Citizen, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Texas League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote to Governor Rick Perry urging him to veto House Bill 2510, “An Act relating to exempting the intrastate manufacture of certain incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation.”
House Bill 2510 asserts that light bulbs manufactured in Texas and offered for sale and use within Texas are exempt from federal legislation requiring improved light bulb efficiency. The environmental groups urged the Governor to veto this Bill for several reasons.
- This Bill is futile because it sets out conditions that almost certainly cannot be met. Under the Bill, all of the specialized components used to make incandescent light bulbs must be made in Texas. But there is no evidence that light bulbs could be cost-effectively made from materials located in Texas. Indeed, tungsten, a critical component of incandescent bulbs is not mined in Texas. Earlier this year, Governor Brewer of Arizona vetoed a similar light bulb bill passed by the Arizona legislature because she recognized that the conditions of the bill could not be met.
- Even if the Bill were not futile as a practical matter, it will not achieve the outcome claimed since the Bill is expressly preempted by federal law and contrary to the numerous decisions of the Supreme Court.
- This Bill sends the wrong signal about the direction that Texas’s economy is heading. This Bill tells the world that Texas is moving backward, embracing the out-dated technologies of the Nineteenth Century.
In fact, the opposite is true. Texas has several companies researching, designing and manufacturing the most advanced LED lighting. Just this past February the governor sought to move Texas forward by awarding an Emerging Technology Fund grant to an advanced LED lighting company. This is the right direction for Texas. But if the Governor doesn’t veto House Bill 2510 and it goes into effect, we will signal that Texas is embracing the past rather than the future.
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Posted in Efficiency, Energy, Global Warming, tagged bulb, CFL, Compact fluorescent lamp, consumer, demand, efficient, Efficient energy use, Energy, energy conservation, Hot Flat and Crowded, incandescent, Incandescent light bulb, LED, Light-emitting diode, supply, Thomas Friedman on November 6, 2010 |
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We use more electricity now than ever, and since 2007 our energy usage in Texas is outpacing population growth. How many of us charge our cell phones or laptops all night so they’re ready for use in the morning? Or perhaps run the AC 24 hours a day during the blazing Texas summers? Several years ago the Legislature passed a bill to bring down our consumption, but there’s still much to be done. On one hand, legislation can continue to push down the maximum levels of energy consumption, thereby compelling energy companies to utilize more efficient forms of energy. On the other, consumers and business owners can decide to individually pursue energy efficient technology, such as light bulbs, solar panels, and more efficient appliances.
Both suppliers and consumers must pursue energy efficiency to push it into the mainstream. It’s the simple market equation of supply and demand—but who is going to push first? Will energy companies supply more efficient forms of energy, or will consumers demand it until it really catches on?
While trolling the halls of Legislature during the last session and passing around information on efficient energy, I was pulled into a conversation between two gentlemen in one of the offices. We discussed a slew of topics, including the Austin rodent problem of Fall 2008, the general usefulness of cats, and (prompted by my flier) light bulbs. One gentleman was insistent that LEDs do not provide near the quality of incandescent bulbs, and therefore refused to use them in his home. I was not exactly sure how to respond to that (I’m no bulb expert) but in my research I found the video posted below.
So why aren’t these alien light bulbs everywhere? Some are too expensive for the average consumer, but I had no idea that so many varieties exist. Since they save so much on energy usage, why aren’t they more popular? (more…)
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