JULY 07, 2011
While the nation suffers through a dire financial crisis, record-high unemployment and a never-ending war on terror, Congress is preoccupied with passing legislation involving light bulbs.It may sound like a bad joke, but it’s very real. The officials elected to represent the American people are working on a law that will determine what kind of light bulbs can and cannot be sold or used by private citizens. It’s the sort of thing that should never be controlled by government, being that the U.S. is a free and capitalist nation.But this is a classic example of an inept Congress passing a bad law, then wasting time to fix it when it should be focusing on more pressing issues. It all started in 2007 when Congress approved a measure (Energy Independence and Security Act or EISA) that, among other things, requires light bulbs to be more energy efficient.The goal, according to the law’s actual wording, is to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, increase the production of clean renewable fuels, research and deploy “greenhouse gas capture and storage” and improve the federal government’s energy performance. Throughout the transformation government will “protect consumers,” which is where the controversial light bulb part comes in.Under EISA, regular light bulbs must use 25-30% less energy by next year and 65% less energy by 2020. This would require a massive light bulb overhaul and a national ban on the highly popular and widely used incandescent bulb, which has been around for well over a century. They’ll be replaced with fluorescent bulbs which supposedly consume a lot less energy but contain mercury that could be quite hazardous if the bulb breaks. They are also more expensive.Realizing that this is not a good thing, a Texas congressman introduced legislation (Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or BULB) to repeal the federal incandescent light bulb ban and the House is expected to vote on it early next week. The measure seeks to protect Americans’ access to the light bulb of their choice and guard against mandates that force them to use bulbs containing mercury.Consumers should decide the cost, type and efficiency of the lighting that works best for them, according to the BULB Act, and the government should not pick winners and losers when it comes to the nation’s energy policy. Evidently this didn’t occur to lawmakers when they passed the defective energy bill a few years ago. The BULB Act indicates that something finally clicked. Maybe a light bulb went off in their collective heads.
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