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US House Republicans Could Follow Texas Lead In Repealing Light Bulb Ban

Incandescent bulbs like these would be phased out in 2012 under existing federal regulations.
Photo by three_sixteen
Incandescent bulbs like these would be phased out in 2012 under existing federal regulations.

Republicans in the US House could vote as soon as today on a measure sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) that would repeal laws on light bulb efficiency.  Texas has already adopted a law that exempts incandescent bulbs made in Texas from the federal regulations.

The Guardian newspaper’s US environment correspondent explains how a law passed in 2007 would start phasing out old-fashioned 100 watt bulbs starting next year.

But the new breed of Tea party conservatives, encouraged by chat show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, have cast the promotion of the more efficient LED and CFL lights as a shining example of needless government interference. They also argue that the bulbs cost more than the old-fashioned variety and are health hazards, because they contain mercury. But their most passionately voiced argument is freedom. Hanging on to the old-style bulbs is really about personal liberty, they say.

Using similar logic, Texas lawmakers passed the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, also known as House Bill 2510. It says light bulbs made and sold in Texas do not involve interstate commerce, and therefore cannot be federally regulated.    

But the measure may be more symbolic than practical.

"We don't mine tungsten in Texas," David Power, deputy director of the Public Citizen office in Texas told the Los Angeles Times. "So there is no place where they can get a Texas-made filament" for bulbs.

Nevertheless, the measure garnered praise from conservatives for its pushback against what they perceive as the fed’s “feel-good, nanny-state regulations.”

Rep. Barton’s bill in the US House was introduced last week, and has the support of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich), according to TheHill.He said he hopes to bring the bill to the floor for a vote this week.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.