White House opposes mandating switch to specific energy efficient lightbulb

October 3, 2007

China plans to replace some 50 million incandescent lightbulbs in government buildings this year in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions but the United States has no plans to mandate such a change, a top White House official said on Wednesday.
While a fluorescent lightbulb may cost four times as much as an incandescent lightbulb and lasts 10 times longer, the industry is working on new technology that could be even better, said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
“Our perspective in general is that it’s better to set a performance requirement through new building codes than dictate specific technologies and approaches for achieving that performance because it varies stunningly from building to building and geographic area to geographic area,” he told the Reuters Global Environment Summit. 
“It’s one of these ‘be careful because you might block innovation,'” Connaughton said of the decision not to favor a country-wide swap. “So we have favored standards-based approaches based on performance.”
Still, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday kicked off its “Change a Light” bus tour that will go to 10 cities to ecourage every U.S. household to change one standard light bulb for an Energy Star bulb, saving $600 million in energy costs annually and preventing greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions spewed from more than 800,000 cars..
Legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year that would bar the government from buying lightbulbs that were not energy efficient. 

— Photo credit: Hyungwon Kang


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The key issues are technology, competitive economics, and freedom. There are a number of promising technologies that are highly efficient, use less electricity to produce light. However government should not establish monopolies to achieve environmental goals. Example: Why should a citizen pay $10 for one defined light bulb type, so that fewer coal fired power plants might save the utility $5? Further, is global warming worth $5 in present value for some ill defined future good? The long term macro climate effects are highly controversial among scientists. The measured results to date, disprove the worst case scenarios. Hence cost effective efficiency improvements in our infrastructure should be our first choice.

Posted by R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. | Report as abusive

Let’s see — the government allows HDTV to sabotage my old TV set so it won’t work unless I shell out money for a converter — I guess because a non-HD image could cripple or kill me.

It brought and won a court case t to prohibit a smaller meatpacking company to test its cows for mad cow disease, thus mandating against safety testing — I guess because the cost of a debilitating killer disease is less dangerous to the nation than letting larger companies maybe feel compelled to do the same, cutting into their profits.

So which global megacorp has money in the standard lightbulb business?

This US government is not a government for, of, and by the people — that has vanished from the earth.

It’s just a big fat representative of whoever offers the biggest bribe — a conduit for kickbacks while the people are the enemy., and PROUD of it.

Posted by jamesmalik | Report as abusive

”the industry is working on new technology that could be even better, said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.”

Any ”idea” coming out of this White House should be rejected out of hand. What has it ever been right about or done in any manner other than incompetently to the benefit of cronies and the detriment of everyone else?

What has it touched that has not become a disastrous of epic proportions; what disaster has it touched that it did not make into superdisaster?

The government need not mandate lightbulb types for every home or business — but why not start w/ government buildings?

Oh right — someday, a crony may or may not own “new technology that could be even better”

“Go shopping”

Posted by jamesmalik | Report as abusive

It goes without saying that the new light bulbs save electricity, but they cost more and have to be disposed of in a special way so as not release chemicals into the air. So, when all is said and done we have paid more to use this new technology then if we stayed with the incandescent bulbs. By the way, don’t believe that the new bulbs are going to last as long as they say. They haven’t been around that long. My guess is that some manufacturer has a relative in the White House who is really trying to push these into law like the three gallon toilets. It’s all politics, translation; GARBAGE!

Posted by EarlSmith | Report as abusive

There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” light bulb. The compact flourescent bulbs have real environmental health issues, i.e. they contain mercury. Besides when did “we the people” give the government the power to dictate the kind of light bulb we can buy? Did anyone at RUETERS notice yesterday that the CO2-man-made global warming (aka climate change) has just been made moot? check out icecap.com and read the new research that has quantified the warming effect of CO2…. 0.070 degrees celsius per DECADE!!! i.e. no effect.. not man-made! Now can we all just take a deep breath and rationally re-evaluate the crisis mentality surrounding this bogus issue including ALL of the really bad POLICIES that are being tossed around because it the INCORRECT idea that we are “saving the planet”!

Posted by Dennis Baltuskonis | Report as abusive

Of the several brand name fluorescent light bulbs I’ve checked in Wal-Mart, ALL of them contain mercury. How are we saving the environment by dumping 50 million mercury-containing light bulbs in 7 to 10 years’ time in the landfill? And please don’t quote the tired Liberal-Enviro excuse of charging an environmental fee to properly dispose of them. That’s just paying more money in special taxes and doesn’t solve the problem of disposal. When the children start being born with birth defects due to mercury in the food chain, it will be too late.

Posted by justsmithers | Report as abusive

What about those of us who suffer migraines sometimes triggered by fluorescent lights? I cannot have fluorescent bulbs in my home. Even my neurologist uses an incandescent lamp in his office. Some epileptics are bothered by fluorescents as well. This across-the-board ultimatum is wrong.

Posted by karenv | Report as abusive

another government fiasco in the making.
stock up now on incandescents while they are available and cheap; there will be a thriving black market for them in a few years. perhaps you can make back some of the losses you have suffered in your property values and 401ks due to government meddling in the housing market.

Posted by stargirl | Report as abusive