Opponents of Light Bulb Ban Win a Big Round, But Battle Far from Over

Both The Hill and Politico are reporting tonight that the tentative agreement between the House and Senate for funding of the U.S. government in 2012 includes a provision blocking the Energy Department from spending money to enforce the ban on the most common incandescent light bulbs.

As I noted in “Five Myths About the Federal Light Bulb Ban,” the ban was to begin January 1 with a block on the sale of the common 100-watt incandescents. In fact, it still will go into effect, but if the tentative agreement is adopted, it simply won’t be enforced — yet.

Pushed by limited-government conservatives, a provision blocking enforcement of the ban in 2012 was adopted by the House as part of an appropriations bill this past year but it was never voted on by the Senate.

Opponents of the ban should take heart from this news but not rest. Although I have not seen the actual language in the tentative agreement announced tonight, it almost certainly only covers spending money to enforce the ban in 2012. Assuming the agreement is adopted, that gives ban opponents a reprieve but that’s it. The ban is still law, it’s just a law that is not being enforced at the federal level. To stop enforcement in 2013, we’d need another victory like today’s.

Bottom line: As long as the ban is law, ban opponents haven’t really won.

Frankly, I’m amazed the Democrats are fighting this as much as they have been. Throughout 2011 I have been on talk radio shows (including many that are not overly political or conservative) all over the country talking about this ban, and I’ve been struck by how many of those who call in who don’t appear to be conservatives, or even particularly political — but they are strongly against this bulb ban. Sure, it’s not as big an issue as unemployment or the deficit or many others I could name, but it matters to people, and, despite what the left keeps claiming, it’s a real ban. No, not on every incandescent light bulb, just the ones Americans buy most.

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