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Activists Seek Repeal of Ban On Incandescent Bulbs 1049

Posted by Soulskill
from the wouldn't-want-to-accidentally-get-something-done dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Daniel Sayani reports in New American that Senator Mike Enzi plans to introduce legislation to reverse the ban on incandescent light bulbs which is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2014. 'CFLs are more expensive, many contain mercury which can be harmful even in the smallest amounts, and most are manufactured overseas in places like China,' says Enzi. 'If left alone, the best bulb will win its rightful standing in the marketplace. Government doesn't need to be in the business of telling people what light bulb they have to use.' Faced with a phaseout, some consumers are stockpiling incandescent bulbs, although a poll by USA Today indicates most Americans support the US law that begins phasing out traditional light bulbs next year. Despite some consumer grumbling, they're satisfied with more efficient alternatives. 71% of US adults say they have replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs and 84% say they are 'very satisfied' or 'satisfied' with CFLs and LEDs."
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Activists Seek Repeal of Ban On Incandescent Bulbs

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  • Special situations (Score:1, Insightful)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:25PM (#35317414)

    This is another example of whackos in government run amok. Why not let consumers decide what to buy and for what purpose? During the winter I leave a small 40 watt bulb on in my well house to prevent the pipes from freezing...it gives out enough heat and it's perfect for that application. Now I will have to get a space heater causing me to burn even more electricity even when turned on the lowest setting.

    This is absolutely idiotic...for government to ban a specific appliance. Almost as idiotic as banning people from owning and smoking a plant!

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:28PM (#35317474)

    Because consumers are stupid - that's why.

  • by cratermoon (765155) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:28PM (#35317476) Homepage
    Sen. Enzi has interests in utilities and natural gas and coal mining. Can't imagine why he'd care if people used less energy-efficient lightbulbs.
  • Slippery (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mdphdscddlitt (1990796) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:28PM (#35317480)
    Slippery slope. Today it's light bulbs, tomorrow it's thoughts.
    I'd like the freedom to make bad decisions, please. Let me use inefficient light bulbs, drive around without a seat belt, and smoke cigarettes outside the office.
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:29PM (#35317496) Homepage

    This is another example of whackos in government run amok. Why not let consumers decide what to buy and for what purpose?

    The government ban of CFCs two decades ago seems, in retrospect, to have been a good thing. Did you complain then?

  • by JonySuede (1908576) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:30PM (#35317524) Journal

    here in the north the heat from the bulb is more than welcome.

  • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:30PM (#35317530) Homepage Journal
    While I'm getting used to them...

    ...I do most certainly agree that the Federal Govt. should not be the ones dictating which type bulb I fucking purchase!! I'm thinking that is a huge stretch even with the bastardization of the Interstate Commerce clause...geez, they need to fix that shit.

  • by trainman (6872) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:31PM (#35317542) Homepage

    And as this 2007 Slashdot story points out:

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/07/02/26/1916211/GE-Announces-Advancement-in-Incandescent-Technology

    Governments should mandate efficiency standards, not technology. I'm a bit on the free-market side myself, let the best bulb win, but not with absolutely no ground rules for that fight. If government were to truly stand back and let the market decide everything, cost would almost always win out and we'd have a proliferation of coal power plants and inefficient gas cars lacking almost every kind of pollution control system.

    Government's role is to set the standard, in this case, so many lumen per watt, or however they want to word it, and then let the industry innovate the best technology to meet that goal.

  • Re:Clean Power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seanvaandering (604658) <sean.vaanderingNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:36PM (#35317614)
    Exactly.... I live in an older apartment, and we seem to go through bulbs once every 2-3 months - not much I can do about it, except keep buying more bulbs - so it boils down to whatever is the cheapest option, wins.

    On another note, CFLs annoy me to no end - we replaced one light with a CFL bulb, and when we turn it on, it actually takes time to "warm up". After 5 minutes, it's nice and bright, but when we first turn it on, it's dim... like a streetlight that's just turning on. Annoying as hell.
  • by vvaduva (859950) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:38PM (#35317640)

    And politicians are smart?

  • by mysidia (191772) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:44PM (#35317756)

    Because consumers are stupid - that's why.

    No, consumers are not stupid. They are acting intelligently in utilizing technology that is well proven, works 100% is known safe and reliable. Over unproven technologies that represent an inferior option, in many cases don't work as well, are not as safe, and are no more efficient; by having no other redeeming qualities.

    And sometimes aesthetics and comfort matter, especially in regards to the color and nature of light in your home. LEDs and CFLs being particularly hard on the eyes, have many undesirable qualities in that regard, that would cause a rational person to avoid them in many situations for highly intelligent reasons.

    LEDs are expensive; when materials and energy required to produce them are considered they are no more efficient than incandescents.

    CFLs are expensive and dangerous, due to containing mercury, and not well studied UV emissions.

    LEDs also have the disadvantage of not emitting heat; which means, in many cases, additional space heaters have to be setup where incandescents would be used instead, and installation of space header creates energy waste and fire hazard.

    It may be rational to experiment with CFL and LED technologies, but there are good solid reasons to avoid them in many situations.

  • by CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:48PM (#35317798) Journal

    Incandescent bulbs are widely used for heating. For example in bread proofing boxs, small animal tanks and lava lamps.

    Yeah, because they are fuggin inefficient at lighting.

    What exactly are we supposed to use now?

    Use something that is more efficient at heating. If your only tool is a light bulb...

  • by Galestar (1473827) on Friday February 25, 2011 @05:58PM (#35317930)
    I'll just leave this here

    Tragedy of the commons [wikipedia.org]
    Externality [slashdot.org]
    Social Cost [wikipedia.org]
    This is why the government is justified to step in. Free market capitalism does not work when the above forces are in play. You as a consumer deciding on a product based upon your own rational self-interest (one of the fundamentals of capitalism) will most likely pick a product whose use will have negative consequences for others - others that did not enter into any contract with you.

    Oblig car analogy: Your choice to drive a gas-guzzling SUV affects the quality of the air I breathe. I had no choice in your purchase therefore I should not have to bear the external cost (my air quality) of your decision.
  • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by presidenteloco (659168) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:01PM (#35317960)

    'If left alone, the best bulb will win its rightful standing in the marketplace. Government doesn't need to be in the business of telling people what light bulb they have to use.'

    I agree with this provided the government responsibly institutes a massive carbon tax (with corresponding cuts in other taxes) so as to level the "free-market's" playing field so that it achieves environmental responsibility. When your electricity starts costing 5 times as much, you can make whatever choice of light bulb you want.

    I'm pretty sure the constitution doesn't limit what government can legislate, except for the pretty specific clauses ensuring specific kinds of fundamental individual freedoms such as freedom of speech, association, freedom from arbitrary incarceration, and several other specific limitations on the government's scope of power.

    In other respects, it's allowed to be a government and legislate whatever its democratically elected legislators vote to legislate.

  • by szyzyg (7313) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:05PM (#35318032)

    I see the CFL = Mercury thing all the time and frankly it's avoiding the fact that the power savings from replacing an Incandescent with a CFL mean you take less power, burn less coal and release less mercury into the air.

    Here's the math:
    Take a 100w bulb and replace it with a 17W CFL - average lifetime of a CFL is about 10,000 hours. So that 83w power difference over 10,000 hours is 3 gigajoules. Coal power content is about 33 megajoules per kilogram - so that works out to about 90kilograms of coal over the lifetime of the bulb. Mercury content varies but about 10 parts/million is a reasonable average - so that pile of coal will contain about 900 miligrams of mercury. CFL's contain about 5milligrams (although there are 'eco friendly' bulbs that contain less than a milligram.

    Now, there are other factors, firstly the fuel cycle of power plants isn't 100% so the amount of coal will be higher, on the other hand, in the US only about 50% of the electrical power comes from coal.

    Regardless - Incandescents are *worse* in terms of mercury pollution, and anyone telling you otherwise is either misinformed or lying.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raygundan (16760) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:05PM (#35318036) Homepage

    No, it's not the same thing-- and in fact the rule has spurred the creation of several brands of incandescents that *do* meet the new efficiency standards. I have four of them from Philips in a set of ceiling lights on a dimmer switch. It is, in fact, an example of a well-written government rule that dictates what we want (more efficient sources of light) without mandating specific technologies or manufacturers, letting the market sort out how best to get there.

    I'm certainly not enough of a constitutional scholar to argue whether or not congress is allowed to regulate these things-- but assuming they are, they did it the right way.

  • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zan Lynx (87672) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:15PM (#35318184) Homepage

    Actually, the entire US Constitution is exactly about limits on what the Federal government can legislate. The document first takes everything away, the hands out various powers to parts of the government.

    Every other power that isn't listed is supposed to be handled by the States.

    As we can see, that idea didn't last very long. I think it hardly made it to 100 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:18PM (#35318236)

    This is another example of whackos in government run amok. Why not let consumers decide what to buy and for what purpose? During the winter I leave a small 40 watt bulb on in my well house to prevent the pipes from freezing...it gives out enough heat and it's perfect for that application. Now I will have to get a space heater causing me to burn even more electricity even when turned on the lowest setting.

    This is absolutely idiotic...for government to ban a specific appliance. Almost as idiotic as banning people from owning and smoking a plant!

    You know that the problem is not the government being idiotic, it's YOU.

    There are dozens of potential choices for you to warm your well house, many of which would be MORE efficient than your lightbulb. Just getting a space heater is an example of you being imprudent and rushing to conclusions instead of learning about your options.

    The easiest I'd recommend would be a simple grow light, as they ARE exempted from the ban, or if you wish, a rough-service lamp. You may also wish to consider a pipe warming electrical cord. They even make them with temperature sensors so they shut off when it's warm enough that you don't need to worry about freezing.

    But no, instead of looking at your options, you'd rather rant and rave at the government. That is why the Free Market fails. People ARE stupid.

  • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AmericanBlarney (1098141) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:24PM (#35318356)

    I'm pretty sure the constitution doesn't limit what government can legislate, except for the pretty specific clauses ensuring specific kinds of fundamental individual freedoms such as freedom of speech, association, freedom from arbitrary incarceration, and several other specific limitations on the government's scope of power.

    In other respects, it's allowed to be a government and legislate whatever its democratically elected legislators vote to legislate.

    Try reading the Constitution before taking wild guesses what it does and doesn't say. They are called "enumerated powers" and are found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

  • by gTsiros (205624) on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:27PM (#35318408)

    what do you mean more efficient at heating?

    a 40W lamp in an enclosed, opaque space is exactly as efficient as a 40W heater in that same enclosed space.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @06:46PM (#35318672)

    And yet if you break an incandescent in your house you're expected to just through it away... But if you break a CFL its treated as an environmental catastrophe requiring duck tape, air / heat turned off, space suits etc...

    If the government thinks it has to mandate a technology to replace an existing, cheap technology because of environment concern, there's something wrong when the government then has to come out with papers on how to clean up the mercury they're forcing us to bring into our homes.

  • Re:Clean Power (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday February 25, 2011 @07:02PM (#35318860) Homepage Journal

    I have an idea!

    How about I buy the cheapest ass incandescent bulbs I can find and everybody leaves me the fuck alone.

  • by tiqui (1024021) on Friday February 25, 2011 @11:18PM (#35320914)

    Sen. Enzi has interests in utilities and natural gas and coal mining. Can't imagine why he'd care if people used less energy-efficient lightbulbs.

    Typical lefty sliming. OK, if that's fair, then let me point out the following: GE stands to make a massive pile of cash off of their sales of CFLs, and they lobbied the Obama admin on many "green" energy issues, they have a very cozy set of ties to the Democratic party and Obama and are the corporate parent of NBC and MSNBC who shill for the Obama admin. Does this mean that GE's or Obama's positions on these issues are suspect or are evidence of corruption?

    Personally, I do not assign a presumption of corruption just because somebody's beliefs and policy positions line-up with their own interests (after all, many of us invest in things and advocate for things we believe in) however I think the public are entitled to know the potential conflicts of interest of everybody on both sides of such debates rather than having just one-side accused like this. Yes, somebody opposing CFLs might stand to profit from removing the ban.... and somebody else might stand to profit from imposing the ban.... But in a nation with freedom and liberty, should we not prefer to have no bans on anything unless the ban is the only reasonable way to prevent significant harm? The bigger problem here is that when governments become so big and so powerful that they freely tamper with everything, there will then appear people who see ways to use that interference as a way to make money for themselves (as GE will do from the imposition of the ban) In fact, some people and businesses will find that they can more-easily make profits by getting the governments to eliminate competing products or technologies, and erecting enough regulatory burdens (that big existing companies can devote the manpower to comply with but upstart businesses will be unable to afford to comply with)

    If CFLs are truly superior, then no subsidies are needed and no bans are needed... market forces will prevail and people will move to them. Any time somebody has to force you to give up product A to get you to use a product B, you are already facing all the proof you need that product B is inferior. This is exactly like the electric car... if and when it is the superior solution, people will switch to it (like they switched from VCRs to DVDs and DVRs, or from horses to cars, or steamships to planes...) but if subsidies or bans are involved then the product being pushed is either not yet ready, not the right replacement.

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