You know the energy bill that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law today? Tucked into the legislation is a provision that mandates the phase-out of the 125-year-old incandescent bulb in the next four to 12 years in favor of a new generation of trendy, supposedly energy-efficient Gorebulbs.
First, Australia. Then the EU. And now us. Well-intended bulb-pushers said they weren’t supporting mandates. Just “voluntary adoption” of lighting alternatives. But the road to eco-meddling is always paved with “voluntary” intentions–along with threats to your children that if you don’t volunteer to buy environmentally correct lights, Santa and his reindeer will DIE DIE DIE!
The Business and Media Institute blasts the bulb ban and notes some of the drawbacks of CFLs:
The light bulb provision phases out traditional bulbs by gradually increasing efficiency requirements through 2020.
Conveniently for manufacturers like Philips, which has been pushing for legislation that would phase out incandescent bulbs (and level the playing field among competitors while giving Philips the public relations credit), the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) already meet the 2020 requirement. Proponents of government intervention into the light bulb market argue the change will save consumers money – Davidson reported it will save $40 billion in energy and other costs in the next 22 years. But while Davidson mentioned one drawback of CFLs – that their “yellowish tints” are annoying to some eyes – he failed to mention the major flaw of the new technology: mercury. Mercury, a toxic metal famously found in thermometers, helps create the increased efficiency of a CFL bulb. If the bulb breaks, the small amount of mercury can contaminate the area.
The Financial Post reported in April that a broken CFL bulb cost a Maine woman more than $2,000 to clean when the state Department of Environmental Protection referred her to a cleanup company. At $5 in energy savings per bulb per month (as Davidson reported), one broken bulb could eat up 33 years’ worth of savings! The federal EPA doesn’t recommend professional cleanup for a broken bulb. It recommends you open a window, leave the room for 15 minutes, then put on some rubber gloves, scoop up the broken bits and seal them in a plastic bag, then put that bag in another plastic bag before throwing it out. Then wash your hands. But don’t worry, Tree Hugger – which calls itself the “leading media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream” – says the bulbs aren’t dangerous despite those recommended measures.
Even if the bulb doesn’t break, CFL users are supposed to dispose of used bulbs through state-run household hazardous waste programs, which aren’t nearly as simple or convenient as tossing a burnt bulb in the trash. Some states, like Maine, tell residents to hold hazardous materials in their homes until designated collection days. Many others, like Virginia, require participants to take the bulbs to waste disposal sites for special processing.
These feel-good dim bulbs give you crappy lighting, don’t live up to their longevity promises, and are a pain in the neck to dispose of–but they sure make enviro-nitwits and Big Greenie water-carriers feel good about themselves.
What happened to keeping government out of our bedroom? And our bathroom? And our utility closets?
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