Back in 2007, then-President George W. Bush signed into law a new energy standard that would phase out incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012. Barack Obama took office in 2009, and the new law somehow turned into an evil “light bulb ban.”
Tucked inside the spending bill that funds the government through the rest of this fiscal year, which is expected to pass easily in both houses of Congress, is language that effectively overturns the law to make light bulbs 30 percent more efficient beginning in 2012.
Even though the lighting industry has embraced efficiency standards passed under the Bush administration by designing high-efficiency and affordable incandescent bulbs, conservatives “paint the standards as a ban on incandescent light bulbs and cite them as an example of government overreach.”
The light-bulb effort was one of many the GOP tied to attach that “restrict an array of Obama administration environmental policies, from stormwater discharge regulations to emissions limits for industrial boilers.”
What’s even harder to believe is the language to overturn the light bulb standards was one of the last things holding up the final spending bill.
“There’s an issue with light bulbs and that’s so inconsequential I’m too embarrassed to even discuss it,” House Interior-EPA Appropriations ranking member Jim Moran (D-Va.) told reporters. “It’s not even worth talking about; it’s something that can always be worked out.”
The battle over light bulbs seems a silly one, but at the heart of the issue is how Democrats paint Republicans as opposing technological innovation and energy efficiency standards, while the Republicans paint the Democrats as wanting to regulate the homes of Americans. In this very tiny issue is the larger picture of how both political parties fundamentally believe the country should be governed.
Stopping the so-called light bulb ban — which passed by a large bipartisan majority in 2007 — was a huge priority for the GOP, reports the Washington Times. The spending bill prohibits the current administration from spending any money to carry out the new light bulb standards, which “amounts to at least a temporary reprieve.”
With all that’s going on in this country, it’s hard to fathom light bulb efficiency standards was deemed an important issue. And it’s a bit hypocritical for the GOP to argue they don’t want the government to tell you what light bulbs you can use in your house, but they feel absolutely comfortable to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. The opposition to the new law feels like another political game of “Obama supports it, so we’re against it.”
Lost within the political gamesmanship, is the actual issue of energy efficiency standards. Why is pushing for energy efficiency a bad thing?
“As usual, when technology intersects with political debate, the ratio of rhetoric to science is woefully out of whack,” writes Popular Mechanic’s John Herrman. “So Popular Mechanics launched an investigation into the policy and technology of modern lighting. We talked to the experts and advocates on both sides, and tested the various types of bulbs in our labs, all with an eye on the question: What does it take to change a light bulb?”
The history and future of light bulbs is fascinating in the piece, but what’s more interesting is the magazine’s light bulb test, which found compact fluorescent lights to be the best buy in terms of cost, energy efficiency, durability, and lighting. They also predict that LEDs will be the preferred choice of consumers once they come down in price.