Give me incandescent bulbs or give me death

That gem comes from Michelle (I heart George Bush) Bachmann who has authored a bill, HR 5616 the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.

Challenging her argument

The Strib gave this issue front page coverage.

“By 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be no more,” Bachmann said. “Fluorescent bulbs are more polluting because of their mercury content. We are working on a light bulb bill. If the Democrats can hose up a light bulb, don’t trust them with the country.”

Nice, claiming that this is a huge pressing issue that Democrats are botching, so they must be bad at everything.  But the claim that the mercury is more polluting in these bulbs can be challenged.

The electrical and manufacturing industries, in a rare alliance with environmentalists, portray Bachmann’s mercury concerns as overblown. They argue that fluorescent lights actually reduce mercury emissions in the long run. That’s because the new bulbs use so much less electricity, much of which is produced by burning coal, which emits greenhouse gases and mercury.

“That’s not just the industry talking,” said Mark Kohorst of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. “That’s an accepted aspect of these products, and that’s why they’ve been promoted so heavily.”

So if we have to produce more electricity to run an incandescent bulb, much of which is provided by burning coal, which just happens to emit mercury also, it seems like this should be simple math. It would be simple math we are looking at net mercury in the environment, but it is more complex than that.

The compact fluorescent light (CFL) has mercury inside of it. The two big issue with mercury, are broken bulbs which requires a little extra handling and have a dispersal of mercury in the home, and disposal of the bulb. These issues are covered in the article,

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) outline a series of steps that homeowners should take to clean up broken fluorescent lights: Open windows, use rubber gloves, dispose of all material in sealed bags and remove it to a hazardous waste facility.

“It’s almost as if you have to call the haz-mat team out to your home,” Bachmann said.

Environmentalists argue that most of the steps are the same as cleanup from any broken glass accident, except for the special disposal requirements.

See one problem with this, is that there a lot of things people use around the house now that need special care to be cleaned up or disposed of, with out that haz-mat suit.  Paint, many cleaners, car fluids, cellular phones, computers, televisions, and so on must have proper hazardous waste disposal, at least here in Hennepin County, MN.

But the other thing is that the mercury is contained if the bulb isn’t broken. So it is much easier to care for and contain than the air-borne emissions, which according to the TVA 33% of that in the US comes from coal burning.

Based on current preliminary data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the principal human-caused sources of mercury emissions in the United States are coal-fired power plants (33 percent of the total emitted), municipal waste incinerators (19 percent), and medical waste incinerators (10 percent). (See Figure 1.)

Besides the environmental issue, Bachman rolls out the cost issue. Yes, a CFL costs more than incandescent, but when you factor the longer life and lower energy costs, it is net saving over time. As the US Dept of Energy shows, the savings over time is quite significant at $62.95 over the life of a CFL. Looking at the cost of the CFL that they use $14, it probably is a bigger savings, as the growth in consumer demand has lowered the cost of a CFL, the most expensive CFL I have purchased in the past year, has been 3-way bulbs (dimming ones are probably pricier too) at$8-9 not the $14 that DOE uses.

It is interesting that she now fighting against what could be called a burden for low income families, the higher up front cost of a CFL. Yet her record on supporting families with increases to the minimum wage could only be considered pitiful. From a City Page article in October 2006 in the run up to her election,

Take this answer to a question about raising the minimum wage: “In Minnesota, we have only 3.6 percent unemployment. We are the workingest state in the nation. We have more two-income families than any state in the nation. We have more women in the work force than any state in the nation. We have more people working two or three jobs than anywhere else.” She concluded that “minimum wage in this state is not a big issue.”

I bet some of those people would like to get paid more money so they don’t HAVE to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. And in the meantime, maybe afford that CFL to reap the long term savings benefit, but I digress.

The final issue is the choice issue, should we as consumers below allowed to buy that incandescent bulb?

“I was just outraged that Congress would want to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the American people,” she said. “It struck me as a massive Big Brother intrusion into our homes and our lives.”

Choice in products, novel idea, what ever happened to lead paint, leaded gasoline, asbestos, and other great products, is Bachmann going to fight for the right to party… er, I mean buy dangerous products?  I realize these aren’t perfect examples, as she raise the safety/pollution factor, and my examples are more polluting.  But if you are going to take the tact that government shouldn’t dictate our choices, than you should be able to argue for these other products.

Legislative action in Congress

Bachmann has been a US Representative for 14 months now. According to the legislative web site Thomas at the Library of Congress, Bachmann has sponsored 11 House Resolutions or Amendments.

  • H.R. 789 – Honoring (a bunch of whereas) organizations that work with foster children.
  • H.R. 898 – Recognizing MN is 150 years old
  • H.R. 923 – Recognizing MN is 150 years old (maybe forgot HR898)
  • H.R. 623 – Amend Revenue Code to provide health care choice by providing tax deductibility of expenses of individuals (translation: free market solution plus tax cut)
  • H.R. 3869 – Funding to fix the fallen 35 W bridge
  • H.R. 3958 – certain calculations added to a financial statement by the government.
  • H.R. 4119 – change date of executive branches audited financial statement being presented to Congress (apparently lost the love for Georgie as this is clearly a challenge to the unitary executive principle)
  • H.R. 4311 – allow Chafee Independence funds to pay for private school tuition and transportation to and from public schools (possible back door to start vouchers for private schools??) here is the new added paragraph, you judge

`(5) Vouchers under the program may be available to youths in foster care, regardless of age, for the cost of tuition at a private school offering elementary or secondary education, or the cost of transportation to and from a public school offering such education.’.

  • H.R. 4852 – Allow TANF block grant funds to pay for alternative to abortion programs (coming from an anti-choice place on this topic)
  • H.R. 5616 – Give me incandescent bulbs or give me death act!
  • H.Amdt 599 – cut Amtrak funding by $106 million.

In fairness, she is a freshman Representative of the minority party, so there isn’t a lot that she can do. In a totally random survey of four other freshman Republicans, those four had sponsored 27, 10, 7, and 6 pieces each.

Co-sponsors, or the company she keeps

Sometimes it is useful to see who has signed on to legislation that some might find a bit nutty. So here are her co-sponsors.

Apparently she was outraged by the ad questioning General Petraeus, but didn’t know which of her constituents was the last one that was KIA in Iraq, maybe if we could see caskets, it would have been more memorable (some people are just so visual). Video here.

Shuster: “Let’s talk about the public trust. You represent, of course, a district in western Tennessee. What was the name of the last solider from your district who was killed in Iraq?”

Blackburn:”The name of the last soldier killed in Iraq uh – from my district I – I do not know his name …”

Racist comment

“One amendment today said we could not sell guns to anybody under drug treatment. So does that mean that if you go into a black community you can’t sell any guns to any black person?”

While not convicted, he has been accused of being involved in voter fraud attempts and connected to the Abramoff scandal.

This guy is just a bigoted ass. Thankfully my representative, who he attacked, Keith Ellison, is more of a class act that Virgil or myself.

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

Introduced the PATRIOT ACT and authored the Real ID, probably not on Ron Paul’s Christmas list.

So there are some co-sponsors that are as questionable as Michelle Bachmann herself.  Granted it is Congress.


For those of us in Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann has been quite a bit of embarrassment, which this bill she sponsored is just another example.  We can hope that she will become a 1 term representative this fall with an electoral defeat.



1 Comment

  1. James said,

    September 25, 2009 at 4:38 am

    Energy efficient light bulbs are the easiest first step consumers and businesses can take towards reducing their energy consumption. Products have gotten light years better in the past few years and, in my eyes, indisputably better for 99% of applications. Both CFL and LED light bulbs run much cooler than incandescent bulbs, use energy much more efficiently, and do offer saving on your electricity bill. I am a vendor of energy efficient bulbs, so perhaps I am a bit biased, but I don’t know why everyone doesn’t switch today.

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