Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

January 31, 2007

California’s Latest Dim Bulb Idea

by Kevin Boyd

In California, a state assemblyman has proposed, in the name of saving the environment of course, banning incandescent light bulbs.

Decrying the inefficiency of the common light bulb, a Democratic Assemblyman from Los Angeles wants California to become the first state to ban it — by 2012.

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine says compact fluorescent light bulbs, which often have a spiral shape and are being promoted by Wal-Mart, are so efficient that consumers should be forced to use them. The compact bulbs use a quarter the energy of a conventional light.

“Incandescent light bulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications,” said Levine, who represents Sherman Oaks. “It’s time to take a step forward.”

Levine is known for his environmental bent. Last year, he authored legislation to require large supermarkets to recycle plastic bags. Schwarzenegger signed that bill but has not yet taken a position on the light bulb bill.

Levine isn’t the only one who’s seen the light. Democrat Jared Huffman, who represents San Rafael, is working on a similar bill.

The idea has annoyed some Republicans, who say people should be allowed to make their own choices about which bulbs to buy. But Levine, who heads the Assembly’s Utilities and Commerce Committee, points out that the new bulbs are so efficient that electric utilities give them away.

Nevermind the lack of evidence behind man made global warming for starters, but I’m guessing California has solved all of its major problems to tackle an issue like this. The people of California have the right to buy and use whatever light bulb they choose, not a light bulb that is “efficient” enough for a politician’s liking.

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  • anonymous

    I use CFL lightbulbs, but not where they are hazardous to do so:

    *in the bathroom
    *when completely covered by a globe or other enclosure

    and if I lived in an apartment with a neighbour upstairs who likes to stomp around a lot, I surely would not appreciate having expensive CFL bulbs blown out.

    Like many ideas to impose standards on people without their consent, this one is well-intended but seriously flawed.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    Agreed. The state shouldn’t be telling us what light bulbs we’re allowed to use.

    That being said, as an electrical engineer, I’d like to encourage people to make the switch. Compact flourescent is usually a little more expensive to buy, but it uses much less power and the bulbs last significantly longer than a typical incandescent bulb. Incandescent bulbs are very wasteful, because most of the power running through them is lost as heat, not emitted as light.

  • Jason

    I agree that the state has no business telling people what bulbs to buy.

    But this issue might have more to do with California’s power crisis (rolling blackouts, etc.).

  • Dtm

    The quality of lighting that flourescent bulbs produce is considered inferior by many people, including myself. I’m happy to switch is flourescent bulbs could produce light as well as a halogen can.

  • http://www.quincysblog.com/ Quincy

    But this issue might have more to do with California’s power crisis (rolling blackouts, etc.).

    Had it not been for the same state government, there never would have been (or continued to be) a power crisis. The solution here is to allow power companies to build more power plants, not ban the incandescent light bulb.

    As an aside, I wonder if they’re going to make an exception for things like theaters and other places where artistic lighting is needed. If not, then clearly this statute fails under the First Amendment. ;-)

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    Exactly, Quincy. This is a classic case of government trying to “solve” something, unintentionally creating a problem, and then trying to solve the new problem by creating even more…

  • http://acriticsreview.com manit

    I think it’s a great idea. If the law is passed it will force manufactures to look for better methods of producing a better product. In the long run it will be better for consumers. You think pollution is bad in New York? Imagine if we didn’t force manufactures to put exhaust filters in all cars. Manufactures are out to make money they cheapest way possible. They will now change unless the people demand it.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Adam Selene

    Manit, manufacturers can’t sell something if people won’t buy it. Cars without exhaust filters existed before emission control laws. I wonder why that was?

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