U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has proposed a bill that would reverse a ban on incandescent light bulbs scheduled to take effect next year unless it can be shown that the replacement products – compact fluorescents – don’t offer a risk to consumers.
WND reported only two months ago that a team of some 15 members of the U.S. House, including Bachmann, introduced H.R. 91 that would repeal parts of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which has been described as a “de facto ban” on the incandescent light bulb.
Congress claimed that incandescents were bigger consumers of energy than compact fluorescent bulbs. Since passage of the bill there has been a tidal wave of opposition over the government’s micromanagement of light bulb choices and the dangers of CFLs.
Now, Bachmann has proposed H.R. 849, which would set several conditions for the ban on incandescents, including assurances that “there are no public health risks from the mercury in replacement bulbs at home or in any public building.”
The bill also requires the government to document the “net savings in the combination of monthly electric bills and expenses for new light fixtures to accommodate the new required bulbs.”
And it would demand assurances that the phase-out “will reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2025.”
In an announcement on her website, the Minnesota legislator said, “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 Jan. 1, 2012. This mandate has sweeping effects on American families and businesses and needs serious consideration before taking effect.”
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann
Her new plan, which is supported by many Congress members who also supported the earlier proposal by Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas; Michael Burgess, R-Texas; and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., among others, provides for the mandate to remain if the three thresholds are documented.
“First, it must be proven that that the ‘energy efficient’ bulbs would lead to real savings in energy costs for consumers;
Second, the authorized bulbs would have to be proven to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions; and
Third, it must be shown that the ‘energy efficient’ light bulbs would not lead to a health risk for consumers, particularly those in hospitals, schools, day care centers and nursing homes,” the announcement from the Minnesota congresswoman said.
“Frankly, I would be surprised if the GAO can prove these criteria, but at minimum, my bill will provide the opportunity to examine these important issues. The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light bulb choices,” she said.
Besides, look at the known dangers from CFLs, she wrote.
“CFLs are so toxic because of the mercury in the glass tubing that the cleanup procedure spelled out by the Environmental Protection Agency is downright scary. The EPA warns that if we break a CFL, we must take the pieces to a recycling center and not launder ‘clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage,'” she wrote.
“CFLs must be rather dangerous if they will pollute the sewage,” she said.
Members of Congress also have noted the CFL drawbacks:
- Most CFLs are not manufactured in the United States. A recent Washington Post story reported that GE is shuttering a plant in Winchester, Va., killing 200 jobs in the process.
- CFLs contain mercury and have to be disposed of carefully. The amount of mercury in one bulb is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels. The EPA recommends an elaborate cleanup ritual, including throwing away any clothes or bedding that has come in direct contact with the mercury from the bulb.
- CFLs are not designed to be turned off and on frequently; the lifespan of a CFL may be reduced by up to 85 percent if you switch it off and on a lot.
- People with certain health conditions can be harmed by CFLs. Reactions range from disabling eczema-like reactions to light sensitivities that can lead to skin cancer.
- And the Energy Star program warns that CFLs can overheat and smoke.
The course reversal being considered now in Congress already has been endorsed by talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh.
“One of the first things the Democrat Congress did when they were sworn in and took the oath in 2007 was this light bulb ban,” Limbaugh said in a recent program. “So I think symbolically one of the first things we ought to do is repeal it. …
“The government ought to have not a damn thing to say about the light bulb I buy. It’s none of their business, especially when this is based on a total, freaking hoax [climate change].
“It insults my intelligence that so many people can be made to believe that light bulbs could destroy or irreparably harm something as complex and out of our control as the climate!” he shouted. “I don’t care if there are billions of light bulbs on at the same time. I don’t care. It’s not a factor.”
Limbaugh then went on a tirade about Big Brother-style intrusion and incompetence:
They have no business whether I buy a Big Mac, nobody’s business how many calories are in it, nobody’s business whether there’s food justice or what the hell, what kind of toys are in a Big Mac Happy Meal. These people are an order of fries short of a Happy Meal, as far as I’m concerned, and they got no business telling me what kind of light bulb I can and can’t have and when I can turn the damn thing on and off, but they sure want that power.”