We’ve been writing about the de facto incandescent light bulb ban since Congress enacted Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act, and President Bush signed it into law, at the end of 2007. In “A nation of dim bulbs” Ferguson discussed the rationale of the de facto ban. Environmental enthusiasts don’t like the light bulbs we’re using now. They reason, therefore, that we shouldn’t be allowed to have them.
President Bush extolled the energy bill in a statement at the Department of Energy. For reasons that Ferguson brilliantly explained, Bush acknowledged the light bulb provision a bit circumspectly: “The bill…includes revisions to improve energy efficiency in lighting and appliances.” After summarizing the bill, he stated: “With these steps, particularly in the bill I’m about to sign, we’re going to help American consumers a lot.” And he thanked Congress: “I appreciate the fact that we’ve worked together, that we can show what’s possible in addressing the big issues facing our nation.” He got that last part just about right.
Now it transpires that the shutdown-averting budget bill will block federal light bulb efficiency standards for nine months, until September 30, 2012, giving a win to House Republicans fighting the de facto ban on incandescent light bulbs. GOP and Democratic sources tell Politico that the final omnibus bill includes a rider defunding the Energy Department’s standards for scheduled to take effect on 100-watt incandescent light bulbs.
Well, now we’re talking. The peasants, as they say, are revolting. To borrow the Cold War metaphors, we are on the cusp of moving from containment to rollback. The administrative state has inserted its big paws into our houses, from the toilet bowl to the light socket. Now if it would just stretch those paws from the one to the other at the same time, we might begin to recapture the spirit of ’76.