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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Mandate not a bright idea

 http://www.redding.com/news/2007/dec/28/better-bulbs-are-bright-idea-mandate-not/

Better bulbs are a bright idea — mandate is not

Our view: Power-saving new varieties of light bulb have wide-ranging benefits — not least of which is cutting utility bills — but not every good idea needs a mandate from Congress to back it up.

Lloyd Levine is laughing last.

The Los Angeles assemblyman won national mockery early this year when he introduced a bill to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of more energy-efficient lamps. His bill died in the state Legislature.

But politics is as twisty as a compact fluorescent bulb, and last week President Bush signed Congress’ energy bill, which includes new lighting standards that will phase out the sale of old-fashioned bulbs not just in California but throughout the United States.

By 2020, under the law, bulbs will have to use 70 percent less power per lumen of light. That standard greatly favors curly-tubed compact fluorescent bulbs, but it also allows manufacturers to hone other technologies — semiconducter-based LEDs, halogen bulbs, even high-efficiency incandescents that General Electric is developing. (Partisans of filaments’ warm glow will look forward to the last.)

With the multiplying options, we half-expect that shoppers will soon need a community college certificate just to buy light bulbs, but the push for energy efficiency makes a lot of sense.

Whether you’re worried about global warming and fossil fuels, grousing about the utility bill, or unhappy about windmills sprouting all over your favorite ridgetop, using less electricity is part of the solution. And if technology lets us do that while changing a light bulb instead of our lifestyles, it’s hard to see the downside to cutting the waste.

Not every good idea needs to become a government mandate, though, and it’s irksome to see lawmakers interfere in mundane consumer choices.

With new technologies offering more and better choices to bulb buyers, they don’t need Congress’ opinion about what to put in the shopping cart — any more than they seek Wally Herger’s advice about digital cameras.

The notion that the government should leave us alone glows dimly these days. Maybe it was turned down to save energy.

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Posted by Procopius on December 28, 2007 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh wait, a new point appears:

""The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that over 800 million lamps are produced each year to replace 800 million lamps that are then disposed. Since 1 gram of mercury is enough to contaminate a 2-acre pond, there is enough mercury in those lamps to contaminate 20 million acres of water" "

First, if you do the math, the number is 16 million acres, not 20. That's a generous amount to round up. A 130% inflation of claims already.

Second, while the average fluorescent tube may have 20mg of mercury, that represents a full-sized fluorescent bulb. The CFLs that are being discussed here are capped at between 5-6 mg each. So now we have a ~350% exaggeration on top of that.

Third, you're trying to represent dilution of a substance over a two dimensional area, which makes no sense. You need to look at volumes, not acres.

And finally, if you do the math, you'll see that inflated number equates to 17 tons of mercury. Coal-firing power plants in the US alone produce 55 tons of mercury a year (1995 data). Now some fraction of that 17 tons in the bulbs will be recycled or otherwise properly disposed of. None of the 55 tons that are belched into the atmosphere will.

 

Posted by DPW on December 28, 2007 at 10:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Continued:

The most important gotcha with CFls is that they are highly toxic and contain mercury.

http://www.worldwise.com/recfluorlig.htm...

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that over 800 million lamps are produced each year to replace 800 million lamps that are then disposed. Since 1 gram of mercury is enough to contaminate a 2-acre pond, there is enough mercury in those lamps to contaminate 20 million acres of water" This is now....how about when everyone is forced to use these??

You almost need a hazmat team to come to your house if you break one!! They need to be specially disposed of and not just thrown into the garbage. Riiiiight....everyone is going to dispose of the bulbs safely. Expect millions of these toxic bulbs to end up in future land fills which then will require even more draconian energy costs to clean up the mercury polution.

The entire idea of forcing the eco-*** agendas down our throats, may make some people feel good about themselves, but in the long run is going to be more expensive, use more energy and create a black market for incandescent bulbs.

The light from CFL sucks. I'm stockpiling incandescents right now. What!? are the light police going to come into my bedroom and examine my reading light. They and the transfat police are coming to check if I used Crisco in my cookies too, I suppose. :-)

God, please spare us from the do-gooders and the unintentional consequences that always result!

 

 

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