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January 05, 2012

Much Ado About Light

Thomas Edison's great-grandson has a column in Politico that reflects the dismay many forward-thinking Americans have about a congressional effort to roll back light-bulb efficiency. The drama centers on legislation signed by President Bush in 2007 that required traditional incandescent light bulbs be 30 percent more efficient by the beginning of this year. The benefit? It will save families $100 each year and $12 billion nationally.

Political resistance to energy innovation is nothing new. Who could forget the outcries from candle lobbyists when Edison's invention went mainstream? But all kidding aside, the column is a great rebuke toward those who want to dim our country's energy potential and send us backward. Here's a snippet:

This would have thrilled my great-grandfather. Edison was one of history’s most prolific inventors, with nearly 1,100 patents involving electricity, the phonograph, one of the first ticker tapes and much more. Many, if not most, of his inventions involved making things work better and more efficiently. He would have been at the forefront of efforts to do the same with his light bulb. After all, innovation and invention defined him.

Somehow, though, this new efficiency law is being demonized and misrepresented by a small group of political ideologues in and out of Congress. They have spun a fear-mongering tale that has left some Americans confused and frightened. There are crazy claims that incandescent light bulbs will be banned, and that Big Brother government is running your life.

Read the whole article.

Although the new law for bulbs went into effect unscathed on New Year's, light-bulb dinosaurs in Congress successfully delayed funding meant for enforcement. But that's not going to mean much because bulb manufacturers began preparing for these new standards in 2007, a time when politicians were arguing over other things. "Big companies like General Electric, Philips and Osram Sylvania spent big bucks preparing for the standards," reports Politico, "and the industry is fuming" over those who want to roll them back.

-- Brian Foley

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