- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
Upton flips a switch on CFL bulbs
Feeling heat, lawmaker sees light on incandescents
Three years after he led the charge to require consumers to ditch their comfortable old incandescent lights in favor of those twisty CFL bulbs, Rep. Fred Upton now wants to be the man to help undo that law as the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
That about-face is not unique among lawmakers looking to atone for stances they’ve taken over the past decade as they seek to gain top posts in a decidedly more conservative Republican Congress, but his reversal underscores how intent the GOP is on proving it has broken with past practices.
“We have heard the grass roots loud and clear, and will have a hearing early next Congress,” said Mr. Upton, a Michigan Republican who is facing several others in his party in a bid to earn the gavel of the powerful committee. “The last thing we wanted to do was infringe upon personal liberties — and this has been a good lesson that Congress does not always know best.”
Indeed, the compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL, has become a symbol of government overreach for many consumers, who wonder what was wrong with the incandescent bulbs that have lighted their kitchens, family rooms and bedrooms for more than a century.
The government says incandescent bulbs have too short a life span and are inefficient, wasting most of their energy on heat rather than on light. CFLs, on the other hand, can last up to 10 times as long and use 75 percent less electricity.
Still, they were slow to catch on, prompting industry, environmentalists and lawmakers to team up and give consumers a push. Mr. Upton joined Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat, to co-sponsor legislation to phase out incandescent bulbs beginning in 2012. Their bill was incorporated into the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which passed with wide bipartisan majorities and was signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush.
But in the intervening years, CFLs have joined low-flow toilets in drawing the scorn of consumers, and some argue that the bulbs’ mercury content poses a safety and environmental hazard.
Some consumers even said they are stockpiling incandescent bulbs to defy the phaseout.
“It’s emblematic of everything that’s wrong in the relationship between Washington and the voters. There was no conversation; there was no back-and-forth. The voters woke up one morning, and they said you can’t buy incandescent light bulbs,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican strategist and energy lobbyist who has followed the issue.
Mr. Upton and other lawmakers — including the other three men seeking the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee — now say they’ve learned their lesson and want to unshackle consumers and restore their choice in light bulbs.
Rep. Joe L. Barton — who is the ranking Republican on the committee, but would need a term-limit waiver to serve as chairman — introduced a bill in September to undo the incandescent-bulb phaseout, and last month he told the Heritage Foundation that he would “repeal that law right off the bat to show that we’re going to put market forces back into play.”
Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican seeking the chairman’s gavel, also has called for outright repeal.
“While we must continue to work to improve energy efficiency and reduce our energy consumption, the misguided ban on incandescent light bulbs needs to be repealed,” he said. “Banning a product that has been used safely for more than 100 years in favor of Chinese imported CFLs that pose considerable health risks is yet another example of more government intrusion into Americans’ personal lives.”
Steve Tomaszewski, a spokesman for Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, another hopeful for the chair, said his boss is aware of the problems with the new bulbs and “has experienced them personally.” He said Mr. Shimkus thinks the committee should look at whether the bulbs are reliable and whether they are as energy-efficient as advertised.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Federal deficit shrinks 20 percent in fiscal 2014
- Wind farms: Interior Department sacrifices eagle protection for alternative energy
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bipartisan House votes against 'patent trolls' who file lawsuits against innovators
- Bipartisan House votes to stop patent 'trolls'
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Leon Panetta named as source of 'Zero Dark Thirty' scriptwriters information
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Robert Griffin III surprised at being benched by Mike Shanahan
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Uncensored exploration of issues concerning current events, civil liberties, American political advocacy, and the political and social issues facing military veterans.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow