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EDITORIAL: Time to stock up on light bulbs

Government ban on mercury-free fixtures takes effect Jan. 1

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Within four weeks, it will be a crime to manufacture a 100-watt version of Thomas A. Edison's brilliant invention. Thanks to a Democratic Congress and the signature of President George W. Bush in 2007, anti-industrial zealots at the Energy Department received authority to blot out one of the greatest achievements of the industrial age. They're coming for our light bulbs.

Know-it-all bureaucrats insist that foisting millions of mercury-laden fluorescent tubes on the public is going to be good for the planet. The public obviously does not agree. Voting with their wallets, people have overwhelming favored warm, nontoxic lighting options over their pale curlicue imitators. Beginning Jan. 1, Obama administration extremists will impose massive financial penalties on any company daring to produce a lighting product that fully satisfies ordinary Americans.

The Republican House hasn't done enough to stop this. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, added language to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prohibit the ban's implementation. A Senate committee deleted this sensible amendment in September, and it's been quite a while since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has allowed an up-or-down vote on a funding bill.

"This was bad policy in 2007 and worse policy in 2011, especially considering Congress' awareness of the American people's opposition," Mr. Burgess told The Washington Times. "Harry Reid has literally removed Americans' choice over what to put in their own homes. This issue is too important to our core values as Americans not to pursue."

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership hasn't made this a priority. Many in the GOP remain cowed by the fraudulent claim that these are just harmless "energy standards" and opposing them would be a crime against the environment. The reality is that this ban is yet another example of the sort of job-destroying regulations that enrich the administration's friends at the expense of consumers. Specifically, the rules turn a 50-cent light bulb into a purchase of $3 or more.

Rampaging bureaucrats aren't just satisfied with foisting inferior light bulbs on the public. The Energy Department uses the force of the federal government to redesign an entire suite of consumer products to meet their personal preferences. In nearly every case, their meddling makes things worse. Current regulations micromanage the function of ceiling fans, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, faucets, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, lamps, pool heaters, power supplies, refrigerators, room air conditioners, shower heads, stoves, toilets and water heaters. Enough is enough.

All of this is entirely unnecessary. The public is more than capable of encouraging the development of efficient products. House Republicans need to force a repeal of the light-bulb ban into the final budget deal so people will know each time they throw a light switch that their representatives see their concerns.

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