House to Vote Again in Continuing Effort to Repeal Light Bulb Ban

Amendment to Repeal Ban Planned for Today, Vote Likely Friday

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mike Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) is expected to offer a light bulb regulation limitation amendment to the U.S. House Energy and Water Appropriations bill sometime after 3:30 this afternoon.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is encouraging the move.

If opponents request a recorded vote, as expected, the vote on the amendment is expected to take place tomorrow.

“This is welcome but not surprising news,” said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who has been an outspoken opponent of the de facto ban on the most commonly sold incandescents.  “The public response to the news that the federal government has taken away our light bulb choices is increasingly akin to the response of our ancestors to a tea tax.  In both cases, the governments involved chose to interfere with the sale of something citizens of all classes all use, use often, and like a lot.”

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 banned the sale of 100-watt standard incandescents in the United States starting January 1, with the sale of standard 75, 60 and 40-watt incandescents banned in 2013 and 2014.  Incandescents for specialized uses and those 28 percent more energy efficient than current standard incandescents (e.g., halogens) may continue to be sold — at first.  But by 2020, standard-use incandescents must be 67 percent more energy efficient than standard bulbs today.  No incandescent bulbs meeting this standard are on the market.

“Backers of the ban claim there’s no ban, because they aren’t banning all the incandescents, just the ones we buy the most and those that cost the least,” explained Ridenour, who says the 100-watt incandescent that will go off-market in January can commonly be bought now for thirty cents apiece, while the cheapest alternative, halogen incandescents, cost 5-10 times more.  “A second excuse is that possession of standard incandescent bulbs will remain legal, you just won’t be allowed to buy them in the United States of America.  It’s a virtual invitation to hoard them, an invitation I personally have accepted.”

Ridenour was pictured with her autistic son, Jonathan, in front of their family’s light bulb collection in a front page New York Times story in March. Ridenour opposes the de facto ban on limited government grounds, but first got interested in the issue because of her middle child’s autism, she says. “The government is pushing us toward mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs, nicknamed CFLs,” said Ridenour, “even as it advises us not to put them in rooms with children because these bulbs are especially fragile and mercury is exposed if the bulbs break.  Because of his disability, our son doesn’t understand that he should be careful around bulbs, so breakage isn’t an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when.'”

“Fluorescent bulbs are not recommended for use around people who are prone to seizures, as they can increase the frequency of seizures; for those with auto-immune disorders such as Lupus, as they can cause skin rashes; for those who suffer from migraines, as they can exacerbate them; for seniors and others with vision problems, as they make it more difficult for some to see to read or do fine work,” Ridenour added.  “Like a quarter to a third of autistic people, our son has had seizures, so we’d avoid CFLs at home even if they did not contain mercury.”

Ridenour says she has nothing against CFLs in general if people want to buy them of their own free will, although she adds “For safety reasons, I hope CFL users are driving burned out or broken bulbs to safe disposal collection places and not throwing them in the trash, as I fear many are.  I really wonder what New Yorkers who rely on the subway are doing with their old CFL bulbs.”

Ridenour in recent months has spoken out frequently in favor of repealing the ban.  In the past week alone, she has appeared on many of the nation’s largest radio programs, including KOA Denver (Mike Rosen), WBZ Boston (Dan Rea), WGN Chicago (Milt Rosenberg), WJR Detroit (Mitch Albom), KOGO San Diego (LaDona Harvey) and numerous others.

“Supporters of the legislative ban include corporations who have what could quaintly be called a ‘conflict of interest,'” said Ridenour, who singles out General Electric, Sylvania and Phillips, “and environmental organizations such as the group founded by President Obama’s Commerce Secretary nominee, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and liberal groups, such as Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports.  The mainstream media mostly seems to have gone along with the CFL-encouraging ban without much thought, much as it supports every tightening of mercury restrictions on power plants without necessarily knowing anything about them.  It seems mercury emissions, to the mainstream press, are something that can be either good or bad, depending on context.”

The National Center’s most recent online statements on the bulb ban can be found here, here, here and here.

The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters. Its 2010 revenue was over $12 million. It receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions are welcome and appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.