The House of Representatives have passed a provision that prevents the ban being implemented following the failure of the Better Use of Light Bulbs act vote earlier this week through a procedural device requiring a two thirds majority. Representative Michael Burgess, another Texan republican, proposed an amendment to the 2012 Water Appropriations Act that was passed on a voice vote. This effectively stops the bulb ban by preventing any government money being spent to implement it. This very effective action kills the ban in 2012 but will have to be renewed annually. For now it gives more time to allow a better long term political move to kill the original legislation.
This political chicanery is sadly not to do with the awfulness of the compact fluorescent lamp or even the desirability of light created from incandescent sources. This is about freedom of choice enshrined in the USA constitution. It is therefore unsurprising that the battle is being fought by Texan politicians, fiercely defending rights of self determination.
Kevan Shaw 15 July 20
The Better Use of Light Bulbs act promoted by Rep. Joe Barton from Texas failed to achieve the two third majority in the House of Representatives yesterday, despite huge public outcry against the incandescent lamp ban in the USA. The bill has largely been promoted on the basis of freedom of choice and did achieve a substantial majority with a vote of 233 for and 193 against. The way is open for the bill to be continued for another vote on a simple majority however even if this passes in the Republican dominated House of Representatives it is unlikely to get through the Democratic dominated Congress or get signed in by President Obama.
The politics behind the original act that this bill seeks to amend are indeed strange. The incandescent ban is a small part of The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 brought in by the Republican administration of George W Bush that largely deals with securing energy in the context of the Middle eastern wars that administration prosecuted following 9-11. So we have now republicans challenging a Republican drafted legislation and Democrats defending it!
The effectiveness of the original legislation is still open to question. So far Texas has enacted state legislation to allow the continued manufacture and sale of incandescent lamps within Texas and several other states are in the process of enacting similar legislation, the result could be a great surge in development of relatively small scale incandescent lamp manufacturing in many states and no doubt “bootlegging” with people smuggling lamps across state borders, echos of the prohibition era!
The campaigning against the ban remains much more active in the USA than it has been in Europe however the wording of the USA legislation is very much aimed at getting rid of incandescence as a principle of generating light from electricity by 2020 whereas the European legislation is supposed to be technology neutral and the acknowledgement that efficient TH lamps should remain in the market in the longer term is beginning to be accepted. So may I wish Howard Brandston and the other champions of rational sense all the best in pursuing this issue.
Kevan Shaw July 13, 2011