As Americans watch 2013 fade away, they must also bid a fond farewell to Thomas Edison’s most famous invention courtesy of Uncle Sam. Beginning January 1, Edison’s classic incandescent light bulb will essentially be banned in the country that gave it birth — all to please environmental and corporate lobbyists.
Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, only bulbs that meet certain energy-efficiency standards may be manufactured in or imported into the United States. Incandescent bulbs cannot possibly meet those standards, and so they are, for all intents and purposes, prohibited.
Incandescent bulbs have been phased out over a period of years. One-hundred-watt and 75-watt bulbs have already disappeared, and in 2014, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs are set to vanish.
Existing inventory of these bulbs may, however, continue to be sold and used, and according to Fox News, “retailers are buying in bulk as the calendar winds down.” The Home Depot, the nation’s largest bulb retailer, told Fox it has a “six-month stockpile” of bulbs, and its website urges consumers to “stock up on incandescent light bulbs before they are completely discontinued.”
The law containing the light bulb ban passed both houses of Congress overwhelmingly and was signed by President George W. Bush. Since that time, Republicans in the House of Representatives have made attempts to repeal the ban to no avail, even when they were in the majority.
The ban was sought not by average Americans, who were perfectly happy with low-cost incandescent bulbs, but by Washington lobbyists.
Corporations saw the ban as a way to improve their bottom lines. Philips Electronics, one of the leading supporters of the ban, had already planned to phase out incandescent production by 2016, so prohibiting others from producing the cheaper bulbs prevented competition. General Electric (GE) took the occasion of the ban to close its last remaining U.S. incandescent-bulb factory, costing 200 jobs; production of permissible bulbs is now taking place in China.
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