How many politicians does it take to NOT change a light bulb?
Some stories, no matter how serious, are just joke-prone. So it was this week with the proposed U.S. BULB act, which aimed to repeal light bulb efficiency standards that became law in 2007. Sponsored by Joe Barton, a Texas Republican congressman, the BULB bill failed to receive the two-thirds vote of those present in the House of Representatives that would have been needed to suspend House rules and pass the measure.
That was the signal for Washington politicians, interest groups and some headline writers to crank up the pun-producing machinery:
“Lights out for GOP Energy Agenda?” in Politico;
“Republican bill to ban energy-saving lightbulbs fades” in the Guardian;
“Dim BULB Act’s Rejection Victory for Common Sense” in a statement from Republicans for Environmental Protection;
And a statement on the “Failure of Dimwitted BULB Act in U.S. House” from the League of Conservation Voters.
“It’s lights out on the Republicans’ latest bright idea: ignoring jobs, making light bulbs less energy efficient, and asking American families to foot the bill. After 6 months in the majority, it’s time Republicans shined a spotlight on Americans’ top priority – jobs,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement released after the vote late Tuesday. “Republicans can’t stay in the dark forever; they must abandon their ideological assault on the environment, the economy, and the middle class, and get to work creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”
Barton was undaunted.
“It’s a victory in the sense that we got a majority vote, but we didn’t get over the procedural hurdle set up today,” Barton said in a statement on his website. “But this vote clearly shows which party is for bigger federal government involvement in people’s daily lives and which is for consumer choice. Why in the world should the federal government tell people what kind of lights they can buy for their homes?”
The 2007 law does not ban incandescent light bulbs in the near future, but it does require them to be made more energy-efficient in a phased process through 2020.
UPDATE: U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu weighed in on the BULB proposal in a Facebook post: “Yesterday, the House defeated a measure to repeal commonsense energy saving standards for lighting — standards President Bush enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support. The standards do not eliminate incandescent lightbulbs – but they will make them more efficient and save you money. I applaud the Democrats and Republicans who voted to protect $6 billion in electricity savings for America’s families.”
Photo credits: REUTERS/Brian Snyder (An employee checks display of light bulbs at Lowe’s store in Massachusetts, Feb. 23, 2011)
REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang (Compact fluorescent light bulb, Great Falls, Virginia, March 28, 2007).