On sister site MNN, Matt Hickman describes how Ahead of Valentine’s Day, GE calls it quits with the CFL bulb. Matt notes that it isn’t much of a loss, as LEDs “continue to emerge as a more viable, in terms of both cost and lighting quality, incandescent alternative.”
Nobody was very happy with compact fluorescent light bulbs, because they were really just squiggly little fluorescent tubes, with their crappy color rendition, fragile construction and mercury vapor. They were also so very political, a favorite target of right wing writers when George Bush signed the energy bill that was to eventually phase out most incandescent bulbs.
There was Michelle Malkin who back in 2007 labeled them Gorebulbs, and others who called President George Bush part of “the Greenie Left who claim jurisdiction over any activity of your life that affects the environment.” Of course they should have been called Bushbulbs, he’s the President who signed the legislation, but no matter. Malkin wrote:
What happened to keeping government out of our bedroom? And our bathroom? And our utility closets? The Gore-ing of America continues…
Then there is Fox News, which as Brian Merchant puts it, claimed Energy efficient light bulbs will kill us all! Oh, those were the days.
Then of course there was our absolute favorite leglislation, Michele Bachmann’s Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act (don’t read the comments!)
This is an issue of science over fads and fashions,” she told an interviewer, and called any human connection to global warming “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” She continued: “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.
None of which is true, of course; it is a tiny amount of mercury, you did not need a hazmat suit and thousands of dollars to clean it up, and the energy saving bulbsactually reduced mercury pollution.
As late as 2011, Republicans were still complaining about the bulbs, with Rand Paul going on about environmental standards in general, quoted in Politco:
“Lightbulbs, refrigerators, toilets, you name it. You can’t go around your house without being told what to buy,” Paul said in 2011 while chastising an Energy Department higher-up. “You restrict my purchases. You don’t care about my choices. You don’t care about the consumer.”
In turn, Obama has openly mocked conservatives’ obsession with the bulb rules. “We’ve actually been criticized that it’s a socialist plot to restrict your freedom for us to encourage energy-efficient light bulbs. I never understood that,” the president said.
Now incandescent bulbs are pretty much gone and the compact fluorescent bulbs are following closely (I converted my home to 100% LED lighting and you should too) and there is not a peep out of the former defenders of the incandescent bulb. This should not be a surprise; the LED bulbs are pretty good, they last a long time and live up to their billing, and they save a lot of money. They are even made in America.
© JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images/ Signing the lightbulb bill
On signing the Energy independence and Security Act in 2007, President Bush noted:
Today we make a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving future generations of our country a nation that is stronger, cleaner and more secure.
Not all of that came true. But if anyone thinks for a second that we would have ever got the LEDs we have today without that legislation, whether we would have seen close to a decade of really exciting research and developments where every week it seemed Mike was covering a newer, cheaper or better LED bulb, they are dreaming. We can happily say goodbye to our Bushbulbs and Gorebulbs and all the stupid politics because they led to the development of something far better, no thanks to Michelle or Michele.
But thank you, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and George W. Bush. We really owe this milestone to you.