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Is There a Ban on Incandescent Bulbs ?

Published 10th July 2011 - 0 comments - 1167 views -

"New efficiency standards for home light bulbs will go into effect in the U.S. next January in an effort to improve energy efficiency. However, there is now a bill before Congress, HR 91, to abolish the standards - though supporters of the bill are certainly ill informed."

While Congress is wrestling with the problem of keeping our country from going bankrupt, some in Congress and our business community are concerned with the serious problem of  – light bulb standards. The Investor Business Daily posted an editorial “Let There Be Lights” on 07/08/2011. (1)  Although it is an opinion piece, it does not represent an informed opinion. The article claims that the ban on incandescent light bulbs sums up everything that’s wrong with intrusive, nanny-state government. However,  there is no ban- just efficiency standards that some incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

It is interesting  that the The Republicans for Environmental Protection are opposed to eliminating the standards while Republicans in Congress, such as Joe Barton and  Michelle Bachmann are pushing  HR 91, a bill which is designed to scuttle the efficiency  standards. The Investor Business Daily editorial uses many of the  politician’s arguments, apparently without checking the facts.  The article starts :

”Energy: The ban on incandescent light bulbs sums up everything that’s wrong with intrusive, nanny-state government.”

But, there is no ban- just efficiency standards that some incandescent  bulbs cannot meet.  The Republicans for Environmental Protection are opposed to eliminating the standards and here is what they say:

“There is no light bulb ban. There never has been. The bulb ban rhetoric misrepresents a 2007 law that sets efficiency standards for general-purpose, screw-in light bulbs. In fact, new, efficient incandescent bulbs that meet the new standards are already on the shelves of your local Home Depot. That fact has not prevented Barton, Bachmann and others from pushing legislation, HR 91, to scuttle the new standards. It is likely that HR 91 will come up for a vote in the House over the next few weeks.” (2)

The Investor Business Daily opinion article goes on :

” As the law stands, the incandescent light, the greatest invention by America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, will disappear at the end of this year. It is being replaced with an unproven substitute — the compact fluorescent light, or CFL — that is both politically foolish and bad science.”

 Eh? The incandescent bulb will not disappear. It will still be available in more efficient designs. And CFL bulbs for home use are based on the same proven technology as other fluorescent light bulbs.  I cannot think of a company, school, or public building that does not use fluorescent light bulbs to save energy and avoid maintenance costs.

The editorial also puts words in the mouths of proponents:

 “Proponents claim CFLs would provide lots of healthy light but use as much as 30% less energy. Not true.” And “- because CFL bulbs cost as much as 20 times more than the reliable old incandescent bulbs, consumers will pay through the nose for pretending to be green. “

The article would like for you to believe that CFL’s are only 30% more efficient but no proponent would claim that.  CFL’s are three to four times as efficient as regular bulbs and last about 10 times as long. As to cost, where do they shop? Many electric coops sell CFL bulbs for $1.00 and they are less than $2.00 at most discount stores.  I doubt if you can find an incandescent bulb for  1/20th of that. And, over the life of the CFL bulb, it will save approximately $9.00 in operating cost over the ten incandescent bulbs it will replace.

Finally, the editorial wants you to be afraid:

“As for safety and disposal, the CFLs are downright dangerous. They contain toxins such as mercury, arsenic, lead and cyanide. You can’t just throw them out — they have to be recycled in a way that’s expensive.”

 Do they realize that much of our electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants. Coal contains a trace amount of mercury, lead, and arsenic  - but considering that we burn 7 billion tons of coal each year -  50 tons of mercury  and many tons of other heavy metals are emitted into the air annually. The mercury and other pollutants are carried to the ground by rain and much of them end up in our lakes and streams where they enter the food chain.  It’s true that CFL’s should be recycled, but even if you don’t, using them will keep much more mercury and other pollutants out of the environment. (3)

(1)    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/577799/201107081902/Let-There-Be-Lights.htm

(2)    See : http://capwiz.com/repamerica/issues/alert/?alertid=51013516&queueid=7101172991 The article contains a link for you to contact your Legislator. 

(3)    http://jcmooreonline.com/2009/08/21/mercury-in-fish/

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