American Elephants

A Tiny Glimmer in the Light-Bulb Wars! by The Elephant's Child

In the miasma that inhabits Washington DC in the hot days of summer, there is an occasional brilliant statement that should draw our attention. In this case it came from Representative Michael Burgess M.D. (R-TX).   First, a bit of history. Back in 2007, George W. Bush, in one of his less stellar moments signed an energy bill pushed by Democrats. The bill sought, among other things to ban the traditional, reliable, incredibly cheap and useful incandescent light bulb.

Congressman Burgess explained why he wanted to prevent a federal ban on traditional light bulbs. If, he said, the new energy-efficient light bulbs actually save money, and if they are better for the environment, we should trust our constituents to make the choice on their own to switch to these bulbs.  Michael Burgess said “Let the market decide.”

Can you imagine! Washington D.C., in the halls of Congress. Trust the people. Common sense. Basic economic principles.

The issue was undoubtedly promoted by lobbyists from General Electric, Phillips and Sylvania, who made incandescent bulbs. The bulbs were cheap, but they didn’t make a lot of money, and on the other hand they could turn lightbulbs into a real profit center if they were made in China. The Democrats’ idea was to phase in the bulbs by imposing efficiency standards on light bulbs that incandescents could not meet.

The rules were supposed to be phased in, starting with 100-watt bulbs in 2012, followed by 75-watt bulbs this year and 60-watt in 2014.  The standards would have forced consumers to buy more expensive compact fluorescents, halogens, or LEDs when their supply of hoarded incandescents burned out. A second and more stringent efficiency standard is set to kick in by 2020 that even today’s compact fluorescents cannot meet. Saving the planet, you know.

Republicans suspended the rule after taking over Congress in 2011 and have kept at it by denying the Department of Energy the funds necessary to implement the standard. Suspending the rule has upset the big companies who were counting on the rules to create a market for their high-priced alternatives.

Suspending the law is not enough.  It should be overturned.

Most people hate the new bulbs, but assume that it’s one of those things that you have to learn to live with, like bad shower heads. Congress shouldn’t be allowed to get away with such stupidity. The health of the planet has nothing to do with incandescent light bulbs, and Congress is deeply remiss in such attempts regulate our individual lives. It is not their business.

Representative Michael Burgess M.D. is a Republican who represents the 26th District in Texas. His phone number in Washington  is (202) 225-7772.

1 Comment so far
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Excellent points.
The same manufacturers had a cartel ensuring the still current 1000 hr incandescent life span consumer standard
(20 000hr ones made chiefly for mining industry etc)

More about the background to Burgess amendment and other related information:


Comment by  lighthouse

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