Should the Feds ban incandescent light bulbs?

Thanks to a law passed in 2007 with bipartisan support, old-fashioned bulbs are due to disappear next year. Now the GOP wants to reverse that decision

Standard light bulbs in a factory
(Image credit: VINCENT KESSLER/Reuters/Corbis)

In 2007, President Bush signed into law a widely supported energy bill mandating, in part, that light bulbs use 25 to 30 percent less energy starting in 2012, and 65 percent less energy by 2020. Some say the new standards would effectively ban traditional incandescent bulbs (or at least phase them out) in favor of compact-fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs, potentially saving billions in energy consumption. The bulb standards represent a "common-sense, bipartisan approach…," Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in 2007. But GOP lawmakers have since flipped the switch, leading a charge against the new standards with a repeal measure known as the BULB Act, on which the House is expected to vote Monday. "The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light-bulb choices," says Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Should the light-bulb legislation be repealed?

Yes, Americans should should have the freedom to choose: "When the government decrees what kind of light bulbs you can screw into the lamp in your own bedroom, even liberals [should] be nervous about the nanny state," says an editorial in The Wall Street Journal. The 2007 law was unwisely passed "at the height of the global warming fad-scare." Now, Republican lawmakers need to save Americans from the "light bulb police." Many consumers simply prefer incandescent bulbs for both aesthetic and health reasons. If CFL bulbs are really so superior, why does the government have to force people to use them?

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