Why Frum Forum is Wrong About the Light Bulb Ban

LightBulbBanthebanWhiteClaiming “There is No Light Bulb ‘Ban’” on Frum Forum, David Jenkins says the following:

As has been written about here before, a group of GOP lawmakers, including Joe Barton (TX) and Michele Bachmann (MN), have stirred up–along with their talk radio and Fox News cohorts–public concern over what they say is a looming “ban” on incandescent light bulbs.

There is no looming ban or phase out of incandescent bulbs. The entire hullabaloo is based on a fictitious claim manufactured by Barton.

All major lighting manufacturers, including Philips, Sylvania and GE, currently produce and sell incandescent light bulbs that meet or exceed the new standards (with no compromise in functionality). In fact, the lighting industry helped craft the 2007 legislation with the full understanding that they could produce incandescent bulbs that meet them.

Unfortunately, these easy-to-prove facts have not prevented Barton, Bachmann and others from pushing legislation to scuttle the new standards. Barton’s legislation, dubbed “The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act” (H.R. 2417), is scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives this evening.

The bulb ban rhetoric is a deliberate misrepresentation…

Jenkins’ hyperbolic argument rests on the word “looming.” Under the 2007 legislation, incandescents must be 28 percent more efficient by January 1, 2012 and 67 percent more efficient by 2020 to be legally sold. Some light bulbs that fall under the “incandescent” category (halogens, specifically) can meet the 28 percent standard at a consumer price 5-10 times more than current models and are for sale now but none can meet the 67 percent standard.

Bottom line: If you like incandescents and want to use the thirty cent 100-watt version, stock up before the end of the year. If you like incandescents and are willing to pay 5-10 times more for a halogen version (more energy efficient, burns hotter, some other differences, but still an incandescent), you will have a few more years to buy those, but they’ll be illegal to sell in the U.S. by 2020 unless somehow they manage to make them 67 percent more efficient than the bulbs most of us buy today.

Are incandescents being banned? Some are illegal to sell in January. Others, not illegal to sell until later. What Jenkins considers the definition of “looming” is his decision. In that, but not light bulbs soon, he has freedom of choice.

Addendum, 7/15/11: I didn’t notice this right away, but Jenkins says in his piece, “The total lunacy of Barton’s legislation caused one bright bulb in the GOP caucus, Roscoe Bartlett (Md) to fire off a Dear Colleague letter urging other members to oppose the bill and pointing out in bold type ‘There is NO BAN on incandescent bulbs to repeal.'” Roscoe Bartlett is a great American — and one who voted in Congress FOR the BULB Act. It would be interesting to read the “Dear Colleague” letter Jenkins alleges Bartlett wrote urging his colleagues to vote against the BULB Act. Too bad Jenkins included no link. Jenkins also claimed Ronald Reagan was keen on federal energy standards because he signed an energy standards bill in 1987. Jenkins left out, however, that Reagan vetoed such a bill in 1986, saying in part, “The bill intrudes unduly on the free market, limits the freedom of choice available to consumers who would be denied the opportunity to purchase lower-cost appliances, and constitutes a substantial intrusion into traditional State responsibilities and prerogatives.” Reagan did not veto the 1987 bill at least in part because it had passed the Senate overwhelmingly with only 6 votes against, and in the House by a voice vote; any veto most likely would have been overridden.

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