Hands off my lightbulb!

A fight may be brewing over light bulbs.

The incandescent is likely to be replaced between 2012 and 2014 by new energy standards for light bulbs, under a bill signed by President George W. Bush in 2007. It’s led to claims the incandescent was to be banned in the U.S. It’s not. There are provisions in place for the production of them for such things as oven and refrigerator lights. And if the incandescent can meet the energy standard, there’s no reason they can’t be sold.

Today, a group of Republican lawmakers at the Minnesota Capitol introduced legislation that would authorize the use and sale of incandescent light bulbs, if they’re manufactured in Minnesota.

It’s a Constitutional argument:

Subdivision 1. Legislative findings. The legislature finds that:

(a) The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees to the states and their citizens all powers not granted to the federal government elsewhere in the Constitution and reserves to this state and the citizens of this state certain powers as they were understood at the time this state was admitted to statehood.

(b)The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees to the people rights not enumerated in the Constitution, including rights as they were understood at the time this state was admitted to statehood.

(c) The guaranty of those powers and rights is a matter of contract between this state, the citizens of this state, and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed to and adopted by this state and the United States.

(d) The regulation of intrastate commerce is vested in the states under article 1, section 8, Constitution of the United States, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

It’s not clear if any light bulbs are currently made in Minnesota, but that’s not the point of the legislation. Besides, there’s an effort to improve the efficiency of incandescents so they meet the new standards.

  • Bob Moffitt

    All the important issues before us, and they want to make constitutional arguements about light bulbs?


  • Tyler

    Can regular incandescents still be sold if they’re re-labeled “spherical heat lamps” ?

  • Ben Chorn

    I just came from Oxford, UK and there they dont have anything but the energy efficient light bulbs- the old incandescent bulbs just dont exist. Funny how much Americans cling to their “right” to keep environmentally un-friendly practices.

  • Bob Collins

    Devil’s advocate, ben: We don’t base the First Amendment on the logic of what a person is saying.

  • Ryan

    @ Tyler

    I doubt it, but the types of heat lamps used for pets are covered differently under the 2007 law.

    Also, there are really no viable deposits of tungsten (the crucial metal needed for incandescents) that can be mined commercially or otherwise in Minnesota. If one must import tungsten from out of state to make incandescent bulbs, the federal government can get involved quickly.

    There is some information about a pilot plant refining tungsten ore for ammunition to be built in Minnesota, but this was from 2009. The idea is that tungsten is far less toxic and friendlier to the environment than depleted uranium. The tungsten used in incandescents must be extremely pure, tungsten in ammunition has far different purity requirements and is mixed with other metals, and are thus not interchangeable.

  • TJ

    My dad’s bummed about this because he designed a pretty complex lighting system for his house that’s all run on dimmers. Apparently, fluorescent bulbs don’t dim very well, and they’re not good for the dimmers, either.

    I guess technology has progressed in the last 12 years or whatever, but he’s not looking forward to replacing all the dimming fixtures and electronics in the house because he can’t get the right bulbs any more. I suspect he’s going to stockpile ’em for years.

  • Jim B.

    I think moving to more energy-efficient light bulbs is great, but it certainly shouldn’t mandated until we have energy-efficient replacements for all types of bulbs (which is not currently the case).

  • JG

    I’ve already been stockpiling. Florescent lamps, particularly CFL’s made with cheaper electronics, cause me to get migraines due to the flicking. I have tried the LED lamps but the color so far is horribly blue and they do not last nearly as long as an incandescent (while the package says I shouldn’t need to replace it for years). The technology has not caught up to the point where incandescent light bulbs can be replaced with something of equal quality yet, and until then I will still be using them.