If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Mercury Madness


From Send Your Light Bulbs To Washington blog post, reporting on a January 12 Investor’s Business Daily article, with added highlighting.


Environmentalism: As the light bulb phaseout goes into effect, you may be surprised to know the law also requires their already-costly replacements to be phased out too.

That's right, new light bulb efficiency standards set by Washington also mandate light bulbs become 70% more efficient than classic bulbs by 2020. The only bulbs that meet that higher standard are light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. And they are even more expensive than compact fluorescent lamps.

CFLs will replace incandescent bulbs to meet the first level of efficiency that's been widely reported in the media. By 2014, household bulbs using between 40 and 100 watts will need to consume at least 28% less energy under a stupid law passed by Congress in 2007.

But a little-noticed provision of the law, known as the Energy Independence and Security Act, also sets a second efficiency goal of 70% that must be met nationwide by 2020.

LEDs already exceed that goal. But an LED replacement for a 50-cent, 60-watt incandescent bulb costs as much as $60. No doubt costs will drop by 2020.

But it's yet another unnecessary federal mandate looming on the horizon for consumers — many of whom are perfectly happy with their old bulbs.

The federal regulation effectively bans those bulbs by halting their manufacture. Major bulb makers have already made the plant investments to follow the law.

As of Jan. 1, traditional 100-watt bulbs no longer meet standards, and are no longer stocked in stores. Starting next January, the 75-watt incandescent bulb also will be phased out, followed by the 60-watt version in 2014.

The Energy Dept. claims each household can save $50 a year in electricity by replacing 15 traditional bulbs. But the costs of the new CFLs exceed those savings. And they'll only get worse with LEDs.

Here's what's really crazy: Two years before it banned classic bulbs in favor of mercury vapor CFLs, Congress passed a law banning mercury vapor streetlights. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, manufacturers cannot make or import ballasts for mercury vapor lights after Jan. 1, 2008.

According to the act, mercury vapor security lights are being phased out to "protect the environment" and to "promote energy efficiency" in lighting.

Utility companies across the country have been replacing mercury street lamps with high-pressure sodium fixtures or metal halide fixtures, which are twice as efficient as mercury vapor and possibly safer.

The government warns that the amount of mercury in one CFL bulb is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels. The same agency that's pitching them as a green alternative requires households perform a small hazmat operation to dispose of them upon breakage.

The Energy Dept. recommends numerous steps to "reduce exposure to mercury vapor from a broken bulb," including shutting off the air conditioning for "several hours" and even removing pets from the contaminated room. It advises picking up debris with duct tape, enclosing it in a glass jar and taking it to a special recycling center for proper disposal.

So the geniuses in Washington are removing mercury from outside the home, while adding it inside. And making us all pay for it. Yet another bright idea from Congress.


Philips have also for some time been calling for a big European switch away from mercury street lighting, citing environmental advantages - though not their potential sales ;-)

Of course, as the above article also says, there are certainly inherent merits in switching street lighting in terms of energy savings - but then, as with domestic lighting, energy saving is not everything, light quality, brightness, and other usage issues should also be considered.

Note the comparative irony,
not merely of allowing CFL mercury bulbs, as in recent UN and EU mandates that seek to reduce mercury use while excepting the CFLs,
but also of directly promoting CFL mercury bulbs, in local North American programs, and in the Philips/Osram worldwide en.lighten switchover initiative with UN backing and public funds.
Whatever the dangers or not of mercury, wherever it comes from, it speaks of rather odd environmental standards...

For a more complete discussion on CFL mercury:
The CFL Mercury Issue
Breakage -- Recycling -- Dumping -- Mining -- Manufacturing -- Transport -- Power Plants

Also, look out for Howard Brandston's upcoming Mondo Arc Magazine article, February, maybe March, on CFL and thermometer (etc) mercury, no doubt highlighting more contradictions!
  image credits, above  RTCC    below  Dr Bulldog    


No comments: