Political conservatives are opposing energy conservation with bills in Congress, South Carolina and other states.
U.S. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced in September 2010 the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act” (H.R. 6144) or the BULB Act that would have repealed a 2007 law that phases out incandescent lights and replaces them with the energy-efficient, compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.
The 2007 bill was President George W. Bush’s “Energy Independence and Security Act.”
“Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to people who work for their own paychecks and earn their own living,” said Barton.
Blackburn said their bill was an effort “to roll back the hyper-regulation of the past four years.”
Barton reintroduced “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act” (H.R. 91) in January 2011. Burgess, Blackburn and 52 other representatives are co-sponsors.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced in March 2011 the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.”
“The government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy. In 2007, Congress overstepped its bounds by mandating that only ‘energy efficient’ light bulbs may be sold after January 1, 2012,” said Bachmann.
She said her bill would require the Government Accountability Office to prove that the new light bulbs would “significantly reduce carbon dioxide emission.”
Carbon dioxide reduction, a leading cause of global warming, has not been a concern of Bachmann, who once said that “carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of the Earth’s life cycle.”
Her remarks were made on the floor of the House in opposition to one legislative remedy for reducing global warming.
As for her light bulb freedom act, Bachmann said, “The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light bulb choices.”
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) introduced “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act” (S.B. 395), a bill with 28 Republican co-sponsors.
“[W]hy should a select few legislators in 2007 be able to tell hundreds of millions of Americans what light bulbs are best for them? Why do we have a federal government so intent on taking away people’s choices and limiting their options? That’s not good for our country,” wrote Enzi.
At a March Senate hearing, one co-sponsor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), accused the deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy of being anti-choice.
“You’re really anti-choice on every other consumer item that you’ve listed here, including light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets, you name it,” said Paul. “You can’t go around your house without being told what to buy. You restrict my purchases. You don’t care about my choices. You don’t care about the consumer, frankly. You raise the cost of all the items with all your rules, all your notions that you know what’s best for me.”
Meanwhile in South Carolina, state Rep. Bill Sandifer (R-Seneca) introduced the “South Carolina Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act.”
The funeral home operator said he opposed the 2007 federal law.
“I believe this is an infringement by the feds on our 10th Amendment rights,” said Sandifer.
“Sandifer’s not a lone light in the light bulb darkness. U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is sponsoring a senate bill that would repeal the federal law, and legislators in three others states (Texas, Georgia, Minnesota) are waving the state’s right bulb flag as well, having launched state legislation that’s akin to Sandifer,” read a recent editorial in the South Carolina Morning News under the headline “Light Bulb Law Probably Isn’t a Bright Idea.”
Energy Star, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, reports that a CFL “uses about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer.”
Additionally, a CFL “produces 75 percent less heat” and can save more than $40 over the lifetime of the bulb in electricity costs.
“If every American home replaced just one light with a light that’s earned the Energy Star, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars,” said Energy Star.
A USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 71 percent of Americans have purchased CFLs to replace incandescent bulbs and that 84 percent were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the new light bulbs.
Christian right leader Phyllis Schlafly wrote that Americans “shouldn’t be forced to buy light bulbs we don’t want.”
She said that the CFLs were toxic, didn’t work well in cold weather, gave off too little heat and would export jobs to China.