Not to leave any progressive stone unturned, the Republican-led House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on legislation to repeal a law that requires more efficient light bulbs in the US.
In doing so, they would throw away $12.5 billion in annual energy savings to citizens, according to a new analysis. They would also throw away the 2000 or so green jobs that have already been created by factories producing more advanced bulbs in advance of the new law.
Bulb manufacturer TCP, which until now has made all its lighting products in China, plans to open its first U.S. plant in Ohio. When's the last time you heard of something like that happening?
Light bulbs have become a hot-button issued in the past couple months as Republicans claim the federal government has no authority to "ban" common household items.
In fact, the 2007 energy law - passed with bipartisan support, and signed by Republican President George W. Bush - does not ban any kind of bulb. Rather, it sets new standards to improve efficiency of incandescent bulbs by 25%.
Under the current law, 100-watt incandescent bulbs would be removed from store shelves beginning next year, and other energy intensive bulbs would follow in subsequent years.
People would still have all the same choices in light bulbs, they'd just be more efficient. Incandescents would be 28% more efficient and compact fluorescents and LEDs would be up to 75% more efficient.
The issue has become highly politicized. Despite the fact that the Democratic-controlled Senate would never allow the repeal, House Republicans are pushing the issue as an example of the Obama Administration interfering with consumer freedoms.
House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-TX), who co-sponsored the 2007 energy bill that created the new law in the first place, has done an about face and plans to bring the repeal legislation to a floor vote this week.
"It was never my goal for Washington to decide what type of light bulbs Americans should use," Upton said in a statement. "I will join my colleagues to vote yes on a bill to protect consumer choice and guard against federal overreach."
While advanced light bulbs are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, the up-front costs are recouped through significantly longer product lifetimes and reduced electricity bills.
Energy costs would decline by an average of 7% or about $85 per household each and every year when the standards are fully in place, according to an analysis released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Their analysis also shows the standards would eliminate the amount of carbon pollution emitted by 30 power plants every year and 60% of the mercury emissions caused by common household lighting.
The standards would save the US over $12.5 billion a year when fully implemented in 2020.
Perhaps Republicans would like to also roll back more efficient air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and every other product that's been improved over the last several decades that's saved our economy countless billions of dollars? Shouldn't corporations and individuals have the right to use outmoded, terribly inefficient equipment if they choose to?
Here's what the descendants of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent bulb, told NRDC about the vote:
"I am appalled that any legislative body would be so narrow-minded as to discourage new and advanced technology. If my great-grandfather were alive today...he would have already moved on to the better, cleaner, sustainable technology well before certain legislators put their opinions into the mix...It is ironic that the very people who are supporting the legislation...are the ones who espouse free markets. Edison would certainly have recognized that the wave of future profits is to make it better, cheaper and, yes, cleaner and more efficient.'' - Barry Edison Sloane (Great-grandson of Thomas A. Edison.)
"Thomas Edison encouraged people to improve on his work, just as he improved on it himself. He would have thought inventing and commercializing substantially more efficient ways to provide light was long overdue... Edison would think that those who would manipulate this issue, this late in the game, to score ideological points, are misguided at best.''-Heywood Sloane. (Great-grandson of Thomas A. Edison.)
"The technology changes. Embrace it.'' - Robert Wheeler (Grand nephew of Thomas A. Edison and president of the board of the Edison Birthplace Association.)
Here's an analysis with state-by-state breakdowns of savings.
Take Action! Call your Representative urging s/he vote this bill down: (202) 224-3121, or send an email. You can find email addresses here: