In his State of the Union address this past week, President Barack Obama reiterated his goal of going green.
Unfortunately, going green has become an excuse for companies to cut corners on quality and safety.
Have you ever heard of Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007? By the year 2014 incandescent light bulbs will no longer exist in the United States and will be replaced with new energy-saving light bulbs. Compact Fluorescent Lights are the most popular type of energy saving light bulbs. The problem with this is these new lightbulbs (in addition to poorer light quality) contain mercury. Hospitals are also warning these new light bulbs can cause epileptic attacks and migraines.
Not only is mercury poisonous, but the improper disposal of the lightbulbs negates the benefits of CFLs. Most people will probably throw the light bulbs in the trash, trash that will most likely be taken to a landfill and buried. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want mercury-contaminated soil.
Last time I checked, contaminating the soil was not part of the green initiative.
Traditionally, incandescent light bulbs have been made in the United States. But in Winchester, Va., the last major incandescent light bulb factory, which employed nearly 200 people, has closed. The process of making CFLs is labor intensive, and labor in China is comparatively much cheaper, so the jobs likely replacing those put out of work will be in China.
There are those who argue that we need to ban incandescent light bulbs for America’s energy security. However, since electricity comes almost entirely from safe domestic sources, the impact of banning the traditional bulb on energy security will be negligible. Oil and gasoline only generate about 1 percent of domestic electricity.
Energy efficiency standards already exist for vehicles, appliances and buildings, and recently introduced legislation calls on the Secretary of Energy to identify additional appliances and equipment that “have significant national energy savings potential” to be included for future performance standard mandates.
The economic theory of “creative destruction,” which was popularized by Joseph Schumpeter, is important when understanding the value innovation has on long-term economic growth. The theory says that the short- and long-term benefits of entrepreneurial activity and competition far outweigh the short-term losses caused by a new product replacing an old one.
Repealing the bulb ban would reverse what has been a long regulatory attack on the American consumer. Producers and consumers do not need government mandates and subsidies to be more energy efficient.
If being energy efficient saves consumers money or reduces costs for businesses, they do not need the government mandates or the taxpayers’ help. When the government creates specific mandates and regulations, it purposely narrows the path businesses can take. These policies distort normal market forces and encourage government dependence.
Several members of Congress are working to repeal it. Representatives Joe Barton, Michael Burgess and Marsha Blackburn introduced the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act last week, which would repeal the elimination of the incandescent bulb.
Now, if only the rest of Congress would join them in turning the lights off on this misguided idea once and for all.