Monday, October 25, 2010
GOODBY LIGHTBULBS, HELLO CHINA
Federal Light Bulb Ban Creating Jobs in China
A federal law banning ordinary incandescent light bulbs has already had a negative effect on the American economy — GE has closed its last major bulb producing factory in the United States, creating job opportunities in China.
Legislation enacted in 2007 orders the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs beginning with the 100-watt bulb in 2012 and ending with the 40-watt light in 2014. These bulbs cannot meet efficiency requirements dictated by law. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are the least expensive alternative. But the manufacture of CFLs is “labor intensive and too expensive to be done at U.S. wage rates,” according to a report from The Heartland Institute, which estimates that domestically produced CFLs would be 50 percent more expensive than bulbs manufactured in China. So instead of retrofitting its plant in Winchester, Va., to produce CFLs, GE closed the plant in September and laid off 200 workers.
CFLs are already being manufactured in China, and increasing American demand will no doubt create new jobs there. As the Insider Report disclosed earlier, while CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last far longer, they cost significantly more, take longer to turn on, can flicker, and contain small amounts of highly toxic mercury, which creates problems for users when they break or need to be disposed of after they burn out.
“Environmental activists and their allies in Washington were either too ignorant of basic economics to see these job losses coming, or they were simply too callous to really care,” said Heartland Institute science director Jay Lehr.
“Either way, compact fluorescent light bulbs in the real world fail to live up to environmental promises, unnecessarily subject American households to toxic mercury, produce poor-quality light, and are sending American workers to the unemployment line.”
And Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said: “If the new energy-saving technologies being pushed by government are really that good, then we don’t need government to mandate them. And if they are being mandated, that’s a sure sign that they’re not very good.”
Three Republican members of Congress — Joe Barton, Marsha Blackburn and Michael Burgess — have introduced a bill that would repeal the ban on the incandescent bulb.
The three said in an article on The Daily Caller: “The unanticipated consequence of the ’07 act — layoffs in the middle of a desperate recession — is what sometimes happens when politicians think they know better than consumers and workers.”