Don’t touch my bulbs

How Bachmann’s bill could save your sockets.

Eric Nehring

If the identities of years past are best preserved in cute little catchphrases like “DonâÄôt Tase me, bro,” and, “IâÄôm not bipolar, IâÄôm bi-winning,” then 2011 may well be remembered in part for the moniker, “DonâÄôt touch my bulbs.” It will be, that is, if one familiar U.S. lawmaker can re-light the legislative lamp.

Not surprisingly, Minnesota congresswoman and conservative media darling Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has been flipping some switches on Capitol Hill this week after recently reintroducing her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.

The “Bulb Bill,” as it may be aptly described, seeks to repeal the federally mandated lightbulb phase-out enacted by Congress through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

While co-sponsors of BachmannâÄôs bill claim federal intrusion into American homes has become too invasive, other congressional Republicans, including Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Fred Upton, R-Mich., stand by the original bulb-grabbing legislation.

Those who support the phase-out of the once-lovable incandescent luminaries claim the sleek âÄônâÄô stylish compact fluorescents are longer lasting and more energy efficient than their bulbous buddies.

With lawmakers left in the dark on how to best curb AmericaâÄôs addiction to illumination, itâÄôs time that we the people let our own light shine forth.

As a liberty-loving constitutionalist, I admit to getting my bulbs in a bunch when I feel the heat of Uncle SamâÄôs looming grasp. But given the theatrical nature of BachmannâÄôs frequent media charades, I wasnâÄôt exactly ready to sack up my sockets and join the bulb-backing bandwagon
either.

I decided to extend my socket-savvy by paying a visit to the Environmental Protection AgencyâÄôs Energy Star website. Surely this would help shine some more light on the subject.

According to the Energy Star product description given there for compact fluorescent lightbulbs, CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than their incandescent counterparts.

Sounds good, right? However, before you bag up your bulbs and head down to your local swirly bulb retailer, get a load of this.

After reviewing information in the frequently asked questions section, I learned that CFLs require 15 minutes of operation time to meet specified standards.

Wait a second! What about the fast flip of the switch needed to ascend the stairwell or see my key into the lockhole? Must I now flaunt my new fluorescent for an entire 15 minutes to perform the desired task? If so, isnâÄôt that inherently less efficient? Hmm âĦ that puts things in a different light.

The EPA website goes on to say that a CFL bulb “produces about 75 percent less heat, so itâÄôs safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.”

Well, what is good for Arizona isnâÄôt always good for Minnesota. Around here we like to keep our bulbs nice and toasty.

Why should some government bureaucrat tell me how hot to run my sockets? Further, under what constitutional authority does this bulb-busting brigade operate? Lastly, if the EPA has to play with their numbers in order to bolster public trust, donâÄôt we reserve the right to bring our bulbs to a boil?

These are serious questions that demand serious answers.

While IâÄôm not suggesting that every carbon-coveting conservative hoard remain incandescent under their Bachmann pom-poms, I do advise joining her for the latest bout of bulb-busting boycotts. Failure to do so could leave you in dark, grasping at nothing but filaments.