Republicans fight to save the incandescent light bulb

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

In the early days of the 112th Congress, Reps. Joe Barton of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Michael Burgess of Texas, all Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, will once again step in to attempt to save the incandescent light bulb. Today or tomorrow, the three representatives will reintroduce a bill to repeal legislation that would replace the incandescent light bulb with a more energy efficient alternative.

The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, better known as the BULB Act, calls for the repeal of the section of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that mandated ending the use of incandescent light bulbs in favor of a more energy efficient alternative. The act was first introduced in September of the 111th Congress, prompted by an article in the Washington Post reporting that the last GE incandescent light bulb factory in the United States would close that month.

The issue gained more prominence following the November election, as it was one of the dividing issues between Barton and Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton as they battled for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton was one of the sponsors of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the bill that instituted the effective ban on incandescent light bulbs in the first place. Upton has since announced a change of heart on the subject, saying that the result was never intended to “infringe upon personal liberties.”

As a result of the increased prominence of the issue due to the chairmanship battle, the original three sponsors — Barton, Blackburn, Burgess — are waiting to see if any other members of Congress would like co-sponsor the bill before they reintroduce it, according to Sean Brown, press secretary to Barton.

The text of the BULB Act is the same as when it was introduced in the 111th Congress, but newly attached to the bill is a “statement … regarding the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the accompanying bill or joint resolution,” pursuant to the new House rules enacted by Republicans. Barton, Burgess, and Blackburn find justification for this bill in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power, “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”