This will be updated continously for some time ...
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Sunday (final?) update on this post
The initial misunderstanding about this all being about a ban being overturned,
has been replaced by misgivings that it was a futile amendment that changes nothing.
True and false:
As laid out in a new post with clarification of light bulb regulations,
little changes for consumers, since the 2012 sale of incandscents was never banned in the first place (only manufacture and import), and stores were stocking up anyway.
But the further point is that the Republican amendment was all that was achievable in a Democrat controlled Senate, and its most important function was to force Congress to look again at the whole light bulb issue in late 2012, at election time.
the idea that light bulbs are an unimportant issue,
does not hold in the sense, as said, that people do use artificial lighting much of their time, and it is of course "bellwether" type regulation for all other energy efficiency regulations on cars, buildings, washing machines etc.
As covered in a preceding post, the underlying desire to save energy and electricity, to whatever extent ideologically desired, can be met much more effectively by other means.
Democrats and Republicans are wrongly ideologically divided on the light bulb issue,
which as explained is wrong in both left-wing and right-wing terms,
and regarding any party members who still believe that targeting light bulbs is a good idea, there are the more relevant described alternative policies, taking in both left-wing and right-wing ideologies.
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RE American manufacturers continuing to make incandescents:
[ this has since been expanded on in a separate post ]
Aside from smaller outfits making "rough service" and other legal incandescents,
USA has relevant incandescent manufacture in for example South Carolina and Pennsylvania - plants which apparently will continue to make the incandescents in 2012 after amendment provisions, and who are backed by local political representatives also on the issue of the halted federal regulations themselves.
See Pennsylvania bill
More on that and South Carolina etc manufacturing bills here.
Texas has no current manufacturing,
but Gov Perry spokesmen told me earlier this year that they were looking for interested companies, after legalisation of local incandescent manufacture in June 2011.
There was the contention of contravening federal laws, but I understand they had been in touch with the Federal Attorney General's office before legalising it locally
(an issue which was seemingly one reason that Gov Jan Brewer of Arizona did not sign their local bill beforehand). More on Texas in an earlier (updated) blog post.
One can also note that California had no problem in locally legislating on the issue,
albeit the other way round, in banning local sales of higher wattage incandescents earlier this year.
Therefore, even after Sep 2012, it is not clear to what extent federal laws would apply in all states.
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Update Friday evening
The Hill again
Sen. Bingaman: Light bulb rider will have 'little practical consequence'
“This decision may have little practical consequence on which incandescent light bulbs are available in stores because, starting Jan. 1, it will be illegal to produce or import the inefficient, wasteful bulbs in the United States,”Some Democrats are as seen pointing out the illegality involved
Bingaman said in a statement.
- which is of course true:
It is simply funding of the oversight of the regulations that has been taken away. This is being compared to voluntarily declaring goods brought into the country, or voluntarily complying with any law, when noone is looking...
That said Republican Congressmen like Joe Barton and Michael Burgess are pointing out the de facto ban delay, as already described, an interpretation which most media commentators continue to share.
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Update Friday evening
Seen on HyperVocal
The battle over light bulbs seems a silly one, but at the heart of the issue is how Democrats paint Republicans as opposing technological innovation and energy efficiency standards, while the Republicans paint the Democrats as wanting to regulate the homes of Americans.This is no doubt true... Light bulbs are made out to be a silly issue (despite people spending half their lives under artifical lights) but it no doubt also touches some raw ideological nerves, as a very visual symbol either of personal freedom, or of Government doing what is supposedly best for all.
In this very tiny issue is the larger picture of how both political parties fundamentally believe the country should be governed.
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Update 3pm Eastern Time:
The Hill reporting Bill passage through House. Extracts:
The House easily approved (296-121) a $1 trillion omnibus Friday,# # #
sending the bill to a Senate for a likely weekend vote.
Senate passage would send the bill to the White House and avert a government shutdown.
Broad support for the bill among Democrats in large part reflected the reality that without passage, the government would shut down at midnight Friday.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said. "This house has spent more time debating light bulbs than we have putting American people to work. It's really been an outrage."
Following on from yesterday's meeting as reported on this blog, an accord was reached last night and confirmed this morning, which effectively delays the ban on 100 Watt bulbs, due to start 1 January, until September 30, 2012.
That is, until the end of the government's fiscal year.
The spending deal still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, ahead of a midnight funding deadline, but this is seen as a formality.
In other words,
the previously described Energy and Water Spending Bill amendment is implemented, that prevents funding of the oversight of ban compliance: a roundabout way of delaying the ban itself.
It therefore does not legally change the regulations themselves, the 2007 EISA legislation is still subject to enforcement, but of course it brings the position forward to 2012 elections.
While the basics are widely covered in media today, Politico has interesting additional observations from yesterday's negotiations...
"There are just some issues that just grab the public's attention. This is one of them," said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). "It's going to be dealt with in this legislation once and for all."
After giving up in recent weeks on dozens of other riders aimed at stopping EPA rules because of opposition from Senate Democrats and the White House, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) told POLITICO that the light bulb rider was "going to be in there."
"Speaker [John] Boehner to Chairman [Fred] Upton to Chairman [Hal] Rogers, they all strongly support keeping it in," said Barton, who served as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2007 when the light bulb language got approved. "And it's a personal commitment because of their philosophy."
"It's the power of Michele Bachmann and the presidential campaign," added Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee that approved the original language. "What can I say? If we can solve the energy problem with the outcome on the light bulb, America would be a great place."
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the Interior and environment appropriations subcommittee, said Senate opposition to the light bulb provisions had up to this point been minimal.
"Amazing, isn't it?" he said. "They [the Democrats] objected to all the other EPA riders and stuff. That was the instructions from the White House. But apparently the light bulb ones didn't bother them too much."
As Kate Hicks at Townhall and others comment, the fact that Democrats allowed this exception gives hope that it will in fact become permanent later - not least being a decision at crucial election time.
Or to put it another way:
Vociferous opposition is likelier than vigorous acclaim.
Environmentalists are apparently mounting a last-ditch defense, with plans for a Friday press conference, that includes representatives from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Philips Electronics North America, Consumers Union, the Alliance to Save Energy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Republicans for Environmental Protection also hope to "shame its GOP brethren into backing down", as Politico puts it.
// Edit: No more news seen on any press conference or protest... maybe they made a wise withdrawal //
EISA regulation, the basics, and official references