Does it make sense to undo a law that President George Bush signed four years ago that will result in a ban of most incandescent light bulbs now on the market? A lot of Republicans think so.
The measure was part of comprehensive energy legislation that Bush signed in 2007 and sets minimum efficiency standards for lighting that effectively results in a ban on most of today's incandescent bulbs.The new standards will begin applying in January to the 100-watt bulb. By 2014, the standards would apply to most incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs really aren't being "banned," but the law is requiring that they have to be 30% more efficient. In a recent NPR interview, Randy Moorhead, vice president and lobbyist for Philips Electronics, says there's no ban and more efficient incandescent bulbs will be sold.
Consumers already are using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) as a replacement--although they are more expensive they use about 75% less energy, produce about 75% less heat, last more than ten times longer and save more than $30 in electricity costs over their lifetimes. Replacing incandescent bulbs will also result in lower greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
On February 21, Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., announced he was introducing legislation, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (BULB), to repeal the 2007 light bulb provision. The bill has 27 cosponsors. "Government doesn't need to be in the business of telling people what light bulb they have to use," says Enzi.
A similar bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said in a USA Today editorial: "When I introduced the BULB Act, it wasn't designed as an attack on energy conservation. It was to defend personal freedom."
And on Monday, South Carolina representatives took steps to circumvent the federal law. South Carolina representatives Bill Sandifer and Dwight Loftis introduced a bill that would allow the manufacture and purchase of incandescent bulbs in South Carolina. "It is my strong belief that the feds have overstepped the Tenth Amendment, and now are venturing into telling us what kinds of lighting we can have in our homes," Sandifer added.
However, it seems that most Americans don't mind switching to CFLs. A Gallup poll done a couple of weeks ago shows three of four U.S. adults, or 71%, say they have replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs (light emitting diodes) and 84% say they are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the alternatives. In a USA Today survey, 61% of Americans said the 2007 legislation is a "good" law while 31% say it's "bad." Support was high among Democrats and self-described liberals, of whom 70% and 83% respectively called it a "good" law. Republicans and self-described conservatives were evenly split in their views.
So is a repeal needed? It appears most Americans wouldn't think so.