Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Enlightened Consequences

When the Democratic Congress passed and President Bush signed in 2007 an "environmental" bill instituting a ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs (due to be fully in place in 2014), we all knew this day was coming. And so it has arrived: the closing of the last major incandescent light bulb factory in the United States.
What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.

The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.

Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.

CFLs, as many note, have their own problems (overhype about efficiency being one of them) and health hazards.

Many on the right are blaming Democrats for this blow to US manufacturing and personal choice in selecting lighting, but it should not be forgotten that a Republican president signed off on this measure.

Erick Erickson has suggested one way for Republicans to help redress the balance if they should regain power in November: legalize the incandescent light bulb. If Republicans put forward a targeted bill to rescind the upcoming ban, how many Democrats would really want to stand in the way? Would President Obama really want to fight over that?

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