Sunday, July 10, 2011

Turning Off the Light of Reason on US Light Bulb Policy

The drive to the bottom continues.

This time, several Congressmen are pushing for a repeal of US energy standards for light bulbs with the idea that the US should not set standards for light bulb energy use.  The philosophy behind this initiative is that the US should not be intrusive into private enterprise.  While this seems like a laudable idea, the reality of the modern industrial age is that some degree of standardization is useful for the nation.  Think about road building, electrical currents, fuel efficiency standards, air traffic control, and food safety.

This photo shows mountain top removal coal mining in West Virginia.
We can continue to use higher energy consuming light bulbs or we can
 reduce energy consumption using new technologies.
Congress is trying to turn back the clock, requiring the use of more energy.
(Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/9630469@N05/709874951/
Let us take a look at the new standards that were enacted by President Bush.  As outlined in this New York Times editorial, the new rules require US light bulbs to reduce their energy consumption by 20-30% next year and double that by 2020.  This is not a particular difficult goal to achieve.  There are light bulbs on the market that already achieve this goal and the bill does not ban incandescent bulbs.

It is frustrating to see our nation driven into the rejection of this policy.  The light bulb rules will save tremendous amounts of energy.  We need to look to new technologies to take us into the next generation of energy.  It is only by providing standardization and guidance at the federal and/or state level that we can move ahead.

The light bulb rules were among the few significant energy conservation bills signed by President G.W. Bush.  It is hard to imagine that we may turn back the clock.  Unless things change soon, I expect we will soon be buying whale oil lamps.

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