2011-07-20 / Features

House Votes No On Light Bulb Repeal

This year has found us caught in the middle of the supposed phasing out of the traditional incandescent light bulb that started with a bill passed by Congress known as The Early Independence and Security Act (EISA). The act was passed in 2007 with the intention of making light bulbs more energy efficient and less harmful to the environment. The terms of the bill were that the incandescent light bulbs we’ve been using since Thomas Edison invented them in 1879 must be 25 to 30 percent more efficient by next year and 65 percent more efficient by 2020. Most bulbs will already be replaced by fluorescents by January 1, 2012.

Many have lashed out against this new idea, however, claiming that the cons of the new light bulbs favored by the EISA far outweigh the pros.

In the current economy, the cost of common household items like light bulbs make a huge difference, and fluorescent bulbs are significantly more expensive than incandescent ones. The argument for the use of fluorescent bulbs is that, with the energy saved by using them, the consumer’s investment will pay for itself in a matter of months; this will only be the case, though, in situations in which a light fixture is used very frequently.

The environment, which was one of the factors motivating the change, is also something to reconsider. The fluorescent bulbs are said to use less energy than the incandescent, but are powered by mercury, which is highly toxic. Proper disposal of the bulbs is an ongoing question. If disposed of improperly, they can have a harmful effect on the environment, more so than using a few extra watts of electricity.

Another large concern is the threat of a possible monopoly on the bulbs. Many are worrying that, since many small businesses that manufacture light bulbs will not be able to afford such a drastic change, they will be run out of business and only bigname manufacturers will be able to continue selling.

Many are also worried that being restricted to which light bulbs one can buy calls into question a breach of civil rights, much like the ban on trans fats.

The House of Representatives voted on July 12, under the Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act, to push for a repeal of the controversial sections of the bill that intend to prohibit the use of incandescent bulbs completely. The bill will also prohibit the government from insisting upon the use of mercury-based light bulbs.

The vote failed in the House –Cristina Guarino

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