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June 28, 2011

Dim Bulbs and Congress

Quotes of the Day:

“I’m deeply, deeply disappointed with CFL bulbs. I replaced pretty much every regular bulb in the house with CFLs, but they’ve been failing at about the same rate as ordinary long-life bulbs, despite the promises of multiyear service. And I can’t tell any difference in my electric bill.” – Glenn Reynolds

“And the dim fluorescent lighting is meant to emphasize the general absence of hope.” – New Yorker Cartoon  (Hat tip: Sam Kazman)

The federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 would have effectively banned the sale of 100-watt incandescent bulbs on Jan 1, 2012, and phased out incandescents between 40 and 100 watts by 2014.

We understand concerns about energy consumption and the environment which motivated this ban. But as the letter below shows, this ban will do more harm than good.

That’s why we’re glad that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton has agreed to support a bill that would repeal this ban.

Please tell Congress to pass a repeal bill using’s Reduce Regulations campaign.

You may borrow from or copy this letter . . .

Regulations may have good intentions. But doesn’t it seem like they always produce unintended consequences?

This is true of the ban on incandescent light bulbs that will begin on January 1. Please support legislation to repeal this ban.

I share the concern about air pollution or carbon-dioxide emissions. But, as Virginia Postrel notes, “banning light bulbs is one of the least efficient ways imaginable to attack those problems” and “gives electricity producers no incentive to reduce emissions.”

Sam Kazman tells the story of an Iowa town that persuaded residents to trade in their incandescents for free fluorescents — and electricity use increased by nearly 10 percent! For whatever reason, they kept the lights on longer.

Kazman also points out, CFL’s . . .

* often burn out long before their much-touted 10,000-hour lifetime

* may take a minute or more to reach full brightness

* can’t be used with timers or outdoors in cold weather or in recessed downlight fixtures

* can’t fit in some of the most ordinary of fixtures, such as the three-bulb sockets on many household ceilings with glass fixtures

* are simply not very bright and are hated by many people, who find CFL light “depressing, color-draining, sickly, headache-inducing”

Even more disconcerting, CFL’s appear to be a health hazard . . .

* They contain minute amounts of mercury which raises disposal concerns

* The EPA advises that the first step in cleaning up a broken CFL is to “Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.”

And finally, there’s the perception that CFL’s are a rip-off. Virginia Postrel notes that “a basic CFL runs about three times the initial price of the equivalent incandescent” and that only 25% of Americans so far have switched to them.

Plus, as Henry Payne notes, CFLs are at this point almost entirely produced in China.

We can’t afford regulations that destroy jobs, create health hazards, that gouge and inconvenience consumers, and that do nothing for the environment. Repeal the incandescent light bulb ban!


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