The Lights Stay On

by Henry Payne

The Obama administration’s War on Carbon rages, but the good news is the incandescent light bulb still lives.

For the third year in a row, the federal ban on the popular incandescent light bulb — the choice of most Americans — was postponed by Republican House intervention that defunded EPA enforcement of the law.

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used . . . to implement or enforce the standards with respect to incandescent reflector lamps,” reads section 322 of the $1.1 trillion budget signed by the president in January. The language was cheered by Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) and endorsed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) who has become a champion of the common bulb after infamously teaming with Lame Duck Bush and then-speaker Pelosi to kill the bulb in a 2007 global-warming-fighting energy bill.

After a firestorm of criticism from consumer groups led by Freedom Action’s Myron Ebell, Upton & Co. stayed the bulb’s sentence hours before its January 1, 2012 execution. The law eliminates the common bulb by capping the energy that bulbs can draw — effectively a mpg law for bulbs that only CFLs can meet.

The Obama EPA, greens, and their corporate-crony allies have continued to push the ban, however. As in so many of its transformation-of-America ventures, the White House has teamed with Big Business — in this case GE, Philips, and Sylvania — as they use regulation to gain higher profit margins on alternative energy and expensively energy-efficient products. Hundreds of jobs have already been lost as these companies shuttered U.S. incandescent plants to begin CFL production in China – part of the process of “transforming the global lighting industry,” as GE put it.

A ban would come at considerable cost to consumers. In the run up to the 2012 ax, retailers tried to mask the inconvenience to buyers by advertising CFLs at huge discounts. They were short-lived. These days an 8-pack of 60-watt incandescents sells at Lowe’s for $2.98, while equivalent CFLs sticker for six times more: $8.78 for a 4-pack.

Now we know why the president wants that $10 minimum wage — to help low-income workers pay for his bulb ban.

The 40W-60W bulbs not only make up over 50 percent of the market, but CFLs are not the energy-savers greens promised. CFLs are fragile — particularly when turned on and off multiple times. Meanwhile, thanks to general media silence, recent polling indicates only 28 percent of the public is aware that their primary bulb source hangs by a thread. Keep the lights on, GOP.