House Republicans Won’t Let Government Dictate Light Bulb Choice

Friday, 16 Dec 2011 01:27 PM

By Martin Gould

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Members of Congress saw the light and heeded Americans’ pleas today as House Republicans saved powerful incandescent light bulbs from the scrapheap.

“It’s a little ray of sunshine, of natural light,” Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican who had led the fight against the ban, told Newsmax.

Traditional 100-watt bulbs were to have been outlawed, beginning Jan. 1, to be replaced by more expensive — and allegedly more efficient — compact fluorescent bulbs. House Republicans managed to sneak language into a massive 1,200-page spending bill that would overturn the ban and save the old-style pear-shaped bulbs.

Burgess said he can understand why the federal government can tell him what light he must use when he is at work in a federal building. “But that is not the same as telling me what bulb to use in my lamp when I am at home, reading.

“I make decisions on how much energy I use and how much,” he added. “I drive a hybrid car, not because the government tells me to, but because I want to as I get better mileage.

“I installed dimmer switches in my house in 2005 because it was the reasonable thing to do, not because the government told me to.”

The fight against the ban hit a nerve with the American people, Burgess added. “They feel exactly as I do. We want to have the option,” he said.

Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy Committee, was also pleased with the decision. He told Newsmax, "We heard the message loud and clear from Americans who don't want government standards determining how they light their homes.

“New lighting options are great news for the public, but the lesson is that markets and consumer demand are the best drivers of innovation and new choices," said Upton, a Michigan Republican.

Conservatives had complained that the proposed ban was a typical example of government overreach. Rep. Michele Bachmann managed to make overturning the ban a presidential campaign debating point. “President Bachmann will allow you to buy any light bulb you want,” the Minnesota congresswoman told the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in June.

During an earlier stop in New Hampshire, she even said using the old-style bulbs was patriotic. “Thomas Edison did a pretty patriotic thing for this country by inventing the light bulb, she said. “And I think darn well, you New Hampshirites, if you want to buy Thomas Edison's wonderful invention, you should be able to!"

The bill was passed by the House this afternoon. The wording does not actually amend the 2007 law that phased out the bulbs, but instead prohibits the administration from spending any money to enforce light bulb standards.

The reprieve will last only until the end of September -- unless it is extended further.

The decision angered many Democrats. Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico posted on Twitter that he “strongly opposed” the wording in the spending package “I hope it’s deleted from any final bill that we pass,” he said.

Environmental groups and light bulb manufacturers such as General Electric also supported the ban.


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