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States’ Rights Live On

Posted By Tait Trussell On June 16, 2011 @ 12:15 am In FrontPage | 21 Comments

The fundamental principle of states’ rights survives—at least in South Carolina. The Palmetto State’s House chamber last month passed a measure standing up to a federal “green” law. The law requires all Americans to buy new-fangled light bulbs to save energy, even if it doesn’t save our eyesight and even if it can make us ill.

The South Carolina bill, called “The Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act,” would let South Carolinians buy the light bulbs everybody is used to, as long as the bulbs are made and sold in South Carolina. For anyone not aware of the federal law, which takes effect in six months, you will be forbidden to buy those inexpensive, bright 100-watt bulbs to read your bedside book, your newspaper, magazines, research papers, or anything else.

South Carolina State Rep. William Sandife III, chairman of the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee, predicted the measure will become law. Because it is a product of intrastate commerce it is, therefore, not subject to federal regulation.

A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she is waiting to see the specific bill language. But, it would be hard to imagine the conservative governor would not sign such legislation once it completes its course through the state assembly.

Under federal law, intended to save energy, you will be required by Jan. 1 to buy the dim, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) containing illness-causing mercury. Thomas Edison must be shuddering in his grave.

While Obama wants to force everybody to buy health insurance or pay a fine, you will just have to buy the new light bulbs. No fine or imprisonment has been mentioned. Attorney General Eric Holder, however, could be mobilizing light-bulb squads to ride through the countryside at night to enforce the law. Nothing is impossible in Obamaland. A query to the Justice Department on enforcement was not answered.

Not only will manufacturers be banned from making the incandescent 100 watt bulb after Jan. 1, this will be followed by restrictions against lower watt versions in future years.

It doesn’t stop there. Our debt-ridden government is spending money we don’t have to subsidize development of more “high-efficiency” bulbs. The Obama Energy Department June 7 announced it is giving three California companies $4.2 million to speed up development of the bulbs, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Obama and his money-bags Energy Department seem to believe the long proven American inventive spirit cannot or will not produce any innovation without being bribed by the government.

“Two leading makers of lighting products” showcased LEDs (light-emitting diodes) as replacements for incandescent bulbs, the Associated Press reported in May. The bulbs are expensive but contain no mercury. They run $40 to $50 a bulb.

The government also is offering more money we don’t have, with a $10 million prize for developing the most innovative bulb. This was the brilliant idea of Senate Energy Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.Mex), an over-the-top environmental fanatic.

But the real reward will come in the form of bragging rights for development, a lighting company spokesman said. One other company, the Florida-based Lighting Science Group, has produced a prototype. It uses organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs that it claims meet stringent performance criteria. Testing is ongoing.

The anxious energy savers who believe a national law and subsidies are necessary promise you will be able to cut your electric bill by a whopping 50 bucks a year. How exciting can such enormous money-saving be? You will, however, have to pay dearly for the new bulbs. The energy saving is that the new bulbs supposedly last 4 to 10 times longer than those bright old bulbs, unless the new bulbs are turned on and off frequently.

Banning Edison’s great invention, reportedly began in Castro’s Cuba and was followed by Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, These are nations with economic systems that seem to inspire Obama-like governing..

In Europe, incandescent bulbs began to be phased out in 2009, being replaced by compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which emit a poor light quality, which flicker and which reportedly cause many people to become dizzy and sick. New Zealand sensibly reversed its ban in December 2008.

With Wal-Mart and other stores selling millions of the CFL bulbs, scientists and environmentalists worry that too many will wind up in garbage dumps. When mercury accumulates in a landfill, it can rise into the air as vaporous methyl mercury, and from there into the food chain, say some scientists.

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced Feb. 11 he planned to introduce legislation in Congress to reverse the ban on incandescent bulbs. He has 27 co-sponsors. “Washington needs to stop picking winners and losers in the marketplace and micromanaging how Americans live their lives,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) a co-sponsor of the measure. He said “[I]t’s clear the nanny-state mentality has gotten out of control in Washington,”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published detailed instructions on what to do if a CFL bulb or fluorescent tube light bulb breaks in your home. Here are some of the worrisome guidelines:

Have people and pets leave the room, air out the room for 5-10 minutes, shut off heating or air-conditioning systems, collect the materials with stiff paper, cardboard or sticky tape or damp paper towels, place cleanup materials in a sealable container, promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container until materials can be disposed of properly, leave the heating/air conditioning system off for several hours.

It’s just that simple.

The EPA also says that, without the incandescent bulb, enough energy would be saved to take the equivalent of 800,000 cars off the roads and save 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas.

The eco-religious Union of Concerned Scientists predicts: If every American household replaced one light bulb with a CFL bulb it would prevent–not 9, but 90 billion–pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants and be the equivalent of taking—not 800,000 but 7.5 million–cars off the roads. When questioned about those claims, a spokesman not surprisingly could not confirm the figures.

If either extreme forecast doesn’t work out for the Obama administration, Barack can always blame George Bush. Ironically, for the first time, the blame would be correctly directed. It was during the Bush administration in 2007 that Congress passed the light bulb law. It was Democrats, however, who controlled Congress.


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