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Repealing the ban on the common light bulb

By Reps. Joe Barton, Marsha Blackburn and Michael Burgess

On this page two weeks ago, Erick lamented the fact that American factory workers are losing jobs to China as a result of the de facto ban on the incandescent light bulb. Light bulbs seem to be a pretty simple part of our lives today. It gets dark, you flip a switch and presto – light happens. But a law passed by Democrats in 2007 – the Pelosi non-energy energy bill – banned nearly all use of the incandescent light bulb by 2014.

A recent Washington Post reported GE is shuttering a plant in Winchester, Va., killing 200 jobs in the process.

“‘Everybody’s jumping on the green bandwagon,’ said Pat Doyle, 54, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. But ‘we’ve been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE.’”

Turns out the compact florescent light bulb, or CFLs as they are commonly known, can’t be produced cheaply enough in America so we’ve turned to China, where virtually every CFL is produced.

Even the AFL-CIO isn’t happy about the move to CFLs. The labor union’s Web site, Screw That Bulb, makes the valid point that there are many ways to save electricity without shifting to the mercury-filled compact florescent bulb from China, or anywhere.

Fortunately, we were already working on legislation to repeal the ban. Today we’ve introduced H.R. 6144, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, which repeals the ban on the incandescent bulb that has been turning back the night ever since Thomas Edison ended the era of a world lit only by fire in 1879. It’s as simple as that, though technically it repeals Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The unanticipated consequence of the ’07 act – Washington-mandated layoffs in the middle of a desperate recession – is one of many examples of what happens when politicians and activists think they know better than consumers and workers. From the health insurance you’re allowed to have, to the car you can drive, to the light bulbs you can buy, Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to people who work for their own paychecks and earn their own living.

We believe that the consumer, not Washington, is capable of deciding which light bulb works best. Democrats, however, believe that you just can’t be trusted to make the right decision. If Democrats want to show the folks back home that they understand the pent-up frustration in this country, they’ll start by supporting our bill.

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