Barton defends light bulb bill on U.S. House floor


Texas Congressman Joe Barton defended his proposed light bulb legislation on the U.S. House floor today against Democrats who decried the Texan’s attempt to repeal a 2007 energy law requiring incandescent light bulbs be more efficient by 2012.

Republicans and Democrats sparred about the price of energy-efficient incandescent light bulbs, the dangers of new compact fluorescent bulbs and the role of the federal government to regulating light bulbs.

“We should let the marketplace decide,” Rep. Barton, R- TX, said. “We should repeal this de facto ban, and we should let people decide if they want to buy a $6 light bulb or a 39 cent light bulb.”

In January, Barton proposed the Better Use of Light Bulb act that would halt the phase-out of incandescent bulbs approved in 2007 energy law, which was signed by Republican President George W. Bush.

The 2007 energy act does not ban the use of incandescent light bulbs, but it instead creates new standards for those bulbs. Under that law, the old 100-watt incandescent bulb would disappear from shelves in January 2012, with the 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs following.

Barton brought the bill to the House floor under a suspension of the rules – a procedural move barring the addition of amendments to the measure but requires a two-thirds majority to pass. The legislation will likely need support from Democrats to past.

The House was expected to vote on the bill this evening, but that vote will likely be postponed until Tuesday.

Opponents of the bill said members of the GOP were trying to scare Americans into thinking the 2007 standards would ban all incandescent bulbs. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., said Congress has regulated energy efficiency since the Ronald Reagan administration and the 2007 standards helped spur industry growth.

“In Congress, we don’t always agree on much, but for the last 25 years, we’ve agreed on energy standards,” Doyle said. “The lighting industry has already begun to revolutionized. When the industry agreed to these standards, they did it because they knew they could still be profitable.”

The energy-efficient bulbs are more expensive than regular incandescent light bulbs, a point of contention for Republicans who said their constituents can not afford the more expensive bulbs.

“It is time for us to say, ‘it was a bad idea. It is bad policy, and it’s time to take it off the books,'” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who co-sponsored the bill.

Democrats were quick to say the new efficient incandescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs can last significantly longer than their counterparts. The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a report Friday defending the new standards and asserting that they could save Americans $12.5 billion in energy costs nationally by 2020.

Lauren French

78 Responses

  1. KB says:

    gr…not any less than the anti-bulb interests.

  2. gr says:

    I wonder how much “bulb” money Barton has received ????
    Loyal to the end.

  3. Gil says:


    Tobacco is a nasty weed.
    I like it.
    It satisfies no normal need.
    I like it.
    It makes you fat; it makes you lean;
    It takes the hair right off your bean;
    It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen;
    I LIKE IT.
    (So there, TOO, Nanny!)

  4. Stan says:

    James, does your elevator go all the way to the top? This isn’t an issue of whether or not we can have traffic laws or if we can regulate light bulbs. This is an issue of WHO can regulate light bulbs as the powers of the federal government are limited by the constitution. Please read the 10th amendment to the U. S. Constitution if you can.

  5. Karen says:

    The entire point is that no one has the right to tell you what type of light bulb you use or what type can be manufactured and sold. Have fun experiencing the aftermath of cleaning up the mercury lined new bulbs that are falsely sold as being oh so much better for the environment.

  6. James says:

    You asked where in the constitution it mentioned light bulbs. My point was they don’t have traffic law in the constitution either but that doesn’t mean government doesn’t have the power to pass laws for things that are not explicitly on there. See how this works?

  7. Mary says:

    It’s a government bulb:

    For the same amount of energy you get less light.
    It takes 3 times more energy to start it.
    If you use it like an incandescent bulb it wears out quicker.
    It can’t produce a full color spectrum.
    It uses mercury gas which is hazardous and contaminates landfills.
    Its hard to start in cold weather.
    Some like to catch on fire.

    Makes you want to run out and buy it.
    An environmentally safe energy efficient bulb? Right.

  8. Stockpiling says:

    Bought a few of those flourescents, about $200 worth last year (40 bulbs). Half of them are burnt out. Also bought $35 worth of incandescents four years ago (36 bulbs). Still have bulbs sitting waiting to be used because only about ten percent have burnt out.

    Energy savings does not offset initial cost, lack of durability, or environmental costs.

    Don’t want to listen to ‘what if’ savings when I am watching my money go out the door.

    Making my run on incandescents in September.

  9. Trail Trash says:

    You bring up a point bubba, plama TVs consume 3-times the power of LCDs. Maybe they need to be banned as well.

  10. jb says:

    skew2 is correct….mercury is in the CFL bulbs….and should be disposed of properly so NOT to end up in the landfills and leak into our water sources….i’ve talked to many folks using CFLs and they throw in the trash when replaced just like the incandescent bulbs….when our children are old they’ll be screaming that the mercury in the landfills has contaminated the drinking water and “how could we not see this coming”…kinda of like the sewer problems in San Fransico, CA due to low flush toilets….”Think before you act”

  11. sunflower44 says:

    Even fat old Rush got into this yesterday. What a silly exercise in nothingness. Ever sense the Reagan administration, energy saving bills have been passed and put into action. We have more efficient air conditioners, washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc. because congress passed laws dictating energy efficiency. This is just another step. Anyone can find a reason not to do the right thing but it doesn’t mean their argument is valid. This is just an exercise in going nowhere by Barton to keep from making hard decisions about creating jobs.

  12. Stan says:

    I guess I used undesirable language on my reply to James.

    James, sweety, laws regarding the speed limit are set by individual states and are not federal laws. You see, honey, the laws of the federal government were intended to be very limiting thus giving most of the rights establish law to the individual states.

    I hope this meets requirements of this fine website and I also hope that James obtains a least a 3rd grader’s understanding of the U. S. Constitution.

  13. CaptSternn says:

    If the CFLs are so great, then why would the incandescant bulbs have to be banned? People would just stop buying them and the market would take care of it. But in reality, incandescant bulbs are preferred by many people for the quality of the light.

  14. texican1836 says:

    Liberals / democrats are stupid enough that they need government to tell them what sort of lightbulbs are “good” for them. Being a conservative, I can figure that out for myself.

  15. bubba says:

    Cost to much?

    I am going to use digital TVs as an analogy.

    LCD and Plasma TVs were too expensive when they first came out. The prices of a new Plasma or LCD are pretty reasonable now. Not sure I want to go back to the old tube.

    The prices will go down….

  16. Jackalope says:

    Geez folks, what’s so bad about letting the people decide??? Do we really need the government to decide for us which light bulbs we can and cannot use? As for me, I use both CFLs and incandescents. I can’t use CFLs for my dimmer lights.

  17. Helen says:

    If the CFLs would actually work as long as they advertise, I would be happy to switch. However, there are several problems here.

    First of all, the light emitted is different from one brand to the next. If you put these in your kitchen ceiling, they look different from brand to brand. They also look different if you choose soft white or bright white (whatever each brand calls it), so you can wind up with lights that have a pinkish hue, lights that are glaringly white and bright, and everything in between. There are no standards.

    Also, I have never had one last even six months. So do I have to save every receipt and tape it to the light fixture? When they make the bulbs somewhere besides China, and when they get some regulation in the industry so we can get what we think we are buying, maybe then I will make the switch. In the meantime it’s just a GE money grab.

  18. Trail Trash says:

    Good observation luckyone. Pro-Choice when it comes to abortion, but no Pro-Choice when it comes to light bulbs, healthcare, or Happy Meals at McDonalds.

  19. traintrack says:

    sadly I can’t believe any of it.Politicians want it, survey and study done by people that want it.Pens don’t lie but the people doing the writing do.When was the last time an incandescent bulb blew and started a fire??proper disposal, great somethinjg else that has to be handeled a certain way .

  20. Gabacho says:

    The truth about light bulbs. OMG !!!!!

  21. taxed2much says:

    obamas buddy from GE Immelt already outsourced those mercury filled pieces of junk to china and you liberals lap it up like it’s going to save the world from the hoax of global warming. are you leftwingers that stupid?

  22. luckyone says:

    It’s pretty pathetic when you have a choice to kill a baby but not choose a lightbulb.

  23. skew2 says:

    ?? Incandescent bulbs do NOT contain mercury…CFL bulbs contain mercury. There is a cost savings over the life of a bulb using CFL’s, but they have to be disposed of correctly so as not to pollute landfills. A big problem I have, is that CFL’s are not available in every size bulb. Also, if you have a fixture with a dimmer, you can’t use a CFL (with its full lifespan) unless they have a bulb with a special ballast resister so you can dim them….these CFL’s cost quite a bit more than a standard CFL.
    CFL is really not the way to go….but it will save you money…eventually.

  24. jas says:

    do not like them, not at all…I don’t feel they save you money at all, ugly to look at, expense and not to mention they are filled with deadly mercury, did you all forget about that fact? They also will not work on dimmers…but the biggest thing that I don’t like is that I will no longer have a what, CHOICE…you think it’s not a big thing and so good for energy bills it’s just more government thinking for you and telling you what’s good for you…I don’t want my old lightbulbs to go away…why is this happening, ok let’s see it’s GE…and they are in the administrations/government’s pocket or should I say vice versa…and once again should I mention the mercury that will go into our landfills and eventually into our water table…god people use your brain…there is no benefit to these stupid bulbs…

  25. John says:

    What? Let the consumers decide? Thats almost as crazy as letting the voters decide!!

  26. ReligionISForTheWeak says:

    lol MKintexas, do you think the regular bulbs are made in the US??? hahahahahaha.

    I’m loving my LED flashlight by the way. I’ve had for 3 years and used it many times and it’s still on the same AA batteries. Amazing technology.

  27. whirlwind says:

    i switched to all CFL for 4 years now. Out of around 20. I have had to only replace 1. also i don’t recall ever paying $6 each, unless its one of those big CFL bulbs for spot lights.

  28. T.C. says:

    Where would consumers be today for seat belts or airbags??? Leaving it the “market place” particularly companies who constantly scream it too costly or why fix it if it isn’t broken. We’re pro CFL and LED. Our electric bill is lower.

  29. Radar56 says:

    How many right-wing nut politicians does it take to screw-in, screw-up or turn-off a light bulb?

    Using the economy of scale model, costs go down as masses of units are produced. More low watt bulb units use results in lower energy use, oil,gas and coal use.

    Using the Barton (AKA Tea party wingnut)economic formula requires high watt bulbs to keep high profits for Electric, Oil, Coal, Gas Companies

  30. mkintexas says:

    Are they mfg these CFL’s somewhere other than China? If not then I don’t want them.

  31. james says:

    Stan, where in the constitution says you have to stop for red lights and can’t drive 120 MPH in a school zone? Maybe crack a book once in a while?

  32. Southern Select says:

    Stan, you should know by now that Liberals do not care about the Constitution.

  33. james says:

    It’s not a nanny state NoWhining. It’s a public interest issue as energy consumption is raised. None of that matters to you however because you have an agenda (most likely due to talk radio listening and inbreeding) so facts won’t change your mind.

  34. Southern Select says:

    The statist ban stinks. It’s just Democrat corporatism in full effect. Go Texas!

  35. saone says:

    I am worried about the mercury in the CFL’s. I bought several and put one in the bathroom that burned out more quickly than a regular light bulb. I read an article that said if you turn the light on and off a lot the CFL will burn out faster – and that was what happened in my case. That said I think our government has better things to do than legislate light bulbs.

  36. NoWhining says:

    Eliminating the nanny state one ‘dim’ bulb at a time if that is what it takes.
    Stopped in 2010. 2012 time to end this bad experiment in government.

  37. Lamer says:

    This bozo needs to get his facts right. The new bulbs are NOT $6. I bought a box of 12 at home depot for $15 bucks and i won’t have to change them for a long long time. And they light my home just as well as the old bulbs did.
    The ONLY downside of the new bulbs is the mercury content which means they need to be properly recycled. Kind of a pain, but whatever…

  38. TThunderbolt says:

    The spiral looking bulbs are horrible. Can’t see with them and they certainly don’t last as advertised. I best I don’t go through a half dozen bulbs a year, anyway. Think I’ll stick to the incadescent (and stock up before 2012). I’m with Bambino on this one.

  39. FLH says:

    My problem with CFL is the amount of light they don’t put out. Most of the time, my trip to the bathroom lasts all of one minute. The CFL doesn’t even get warmed up by the time I turn out the light and leave.

    I want LIGHT when I flip the switch.

  40. cheifdecoy says:

    (AND,,,,,who’s getting them from the florescent manufacturer’s)…..

  41. cheifdecoy says:

    At least you know who is getting kickbacks from bulb manufacturers…..

  42. Stan says:

    I buy LED’s or whatever I want to buy but where does the Constitution of the United States give the federal government the authority to legislate light bulbs?

  43. Energy Moron says:


    A full life cycle analysis of life time, CO2, and mercury can be found here:

    I couldn’t find a distribution of CFL life times but the report does give factors that shorten life and I am sure that the standard deviation is such that a few failures in the month range are expected.

    In a house full of them 3 of mine have burned out to date…

  44. james says:

    There are bad lots with everything. I spent nearly $20 on landscape lights (Par 36 if you want to look it up) and bought the best GE I could find. I had only one bulb out of 7 that worked longer than a week. Just took it all back with the original boxes and explained. The other ones lasted abou 3 years.

    I agree about the high end LED Lights though. They are amazing, but cost around $30 for the good ones now. Once they are adopted more it will drop down to what CFL’s sell for and unlike CFL’s last virtually for ever and use even less power without needing to warm up.

  45. ntangle says:

    I have been a victim of at least 4, repeat 4 such bulbs that burned out within 6 months…
    They’ve been working great for me. Haven’t had to change one yet. Maybe you’re wired wrong.

  46. Tom Daleigh says:

    Ask Texas coal buring, mercury spewing electric power plants if they have ever checked the amount of mercury put onto your property every day. Then ask the 2 bit politician if he has ever had any education except counting his kick back money.

  47. J. Michael says:

    My experience with the CFL bulbs is that they don’t last long emough for the energy savings to pay back the increased cost of the bulbs. LED bulbs are too expensive to buy.
    If you sheep approve of the government controling simple stuff like lightbulbs you will soon be slaves.

  48. Trevor says:

    It’s refreshing to see a republican advocating something that’s safer for the consumer and costs less. I imagine he’s feeling pretty isolated from both parties now.

  49. Religion_is_for_weak. says:

    CFL’s are not the solution, they’re 20 year old technology. LED lights are the future. I’m not talking about the cheap home depot stuff, but the next generation of LED’s that give out the equivalent of 90 watts but only use 11 watts.

    If you want to see a sample of how good they are, go to a Starbucks or a modern office building. It blows CFL’s out of the water.

  50. John Neale says:

    According to Barton, the amount of mercury from coal fired power plants is safe, but the amount of mercury from incandescents is dangerous. This is true, if you’re paid enough to believe it.

  51. Gage Creed says:

    Next up he’ll sponsor a bill to outlaw AC current technology. It kills people ya know?

  52. Kerry says:

    I am a graphic artist by trade and find the new standard a burden to my livelihood: it consumes significant additional time to render an energy efficient bulb over someones head when I am trying to illustrate that they have an idea. The incandescent bulb is so much easier to draw.

  53. CloseTheBorder says:

    oops, meant flourescent bulbs in above post

  54. CloseTheBorder says:

    The gov’t guidelines for cleaning up broken incandescent bulbs is a process that takes about 45 minutes. The bulbs cannot be thrown in the trash (I’m sure noone just throws them away… The incandescent poison the earth with mercury. Thanks to this bill, more American jobs have been lost, the incandescent are made mainly in China (due to US regulations of mercury). The wonderful LED lights, that many traffic signals now use, put out no heat. Guess what, when it snows, it doesn’t melt, the lights are covered creating driving hazards. They have to send out bucket trucks and workers have to wipe the snow and ice off the lights. Most importantly, the fed gov’t does not have the right to tell us what kind of lightbulb to buy!

  55. Stevo says:

    How much industry has this spurred IN THE USA?!?!?! CFLs are not made the the US!

    Who’s industry is this saving – Chinese?!?!?

  56. Keg says:

    The utter idiocy continues. From toxic zinc mines in Ontario for batteries in “hybrids” to mercury filled idiot bulbs that cast a light last seen in a cheap laundry room, the left continues to focus on the worst possible outcomes. Fortunately, I have stocked up with 5 years of “normal” bulbs that won’t kill my children when they break on the floor. Next!

  57. MrOldMan says:

    Crazy Joe, the pride of Texas. Ugh.

  58. BlueJayWay says:

    O M Geeeeeeeeeee ! !
    Where did this redneck MF come from?
    And his paycheck comes from the taxpayers dole?
    Oh Wait!
    Ennis Texas?
    Is he trying to outdo Praying Perry, for the most “__________________ fill in the blanks.”
    O M Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
    As a native Texan, I might want to visit that podunk city and see, fer myself, and looki around, of who in the hell is keeping this MF still in office, who in the hell is voting for this MF.
    Who are these people in Texas – that keep on propping up such a Barney Fife.
    Republicans in Texas, what in the hell is wrong with you people?
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ! ! ! ! !

  59. BonJovi says:

    Well whats next for this Prince Charming of the energy status quo? A bill to outlaw windfarms and solar panels as being unsightly?

  60. Energy Moron says:


    “If someone would just make those CFLs in about 3 Small Towns USA, the economics of them might even improve some more. That is one heck of a long boat ride from China.”

    The CFL was patented and invented back in the US. Uh, we have a small problem in this country of continuing to embrace Edison era technology…


    “When will Conservatives live up to their billing and actually CONSERVE.”

    These tea party types are actually libertarians and not conservatives. You are correct in that true conservatives champion conservation (I am a political conservative, and definitely NOT a libertarian).

    Now, my own experience lookback….

    The 160 dollar investment I made in CFLs and LEDs (8 watt LEDs for outdoor and 7 watt CFLs for the ceiling fans) saves 2 kWH per day in my very efficient home. My summer monthly bills were already less than 100 dollars. But work out 2 kWH per day…

    About a 2 year payout.

    Independent of AGW we need a stiff non-renewable energy tax for folks like Barton who have….



    “The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.”–James Madison

    Madison was a Federalist then a Whig… early versions of Republicans.

    Can we please have some conservatives please instead of these libertarian tea party types who are more like Brutus, the historical author of the Anti-Federalist papers?

  61. Eric_7_V2 says:

    Well, I for one am glad they are finally getting around to the important issues facing this country.

  62. olddispatcher says:


    Methanol was NEVER pushed with the promise of saving gasoline. In fact, it was said from the start that it has a lower BTU content so if you burn it you will get a bit less MPG.

    It was not pushed at all. It was bought in as a sub for MTBE which was an additive that burned cleaner and allowed auto emissions to be lower. If you ever drove in Houston during the 60’s you would know this was a good thing.

    But MTBE was found to have many drawbacks, so Methanol and Ethanol were subbed for it. They burn cleaner than MTBE but they do cost more which is why they were not used to reduce smog to begin with.

    The majority of Americans want to do things that will get us off of oil from other countries as is possible. These new bulbs will be just one more step in the right direction.

  63. BonJovi says:

    Lets see from giving BP the Medal of Honor to “pushing” internet gambling to making Thomas Edison and Nickolai Tesla die laughing. This guy does it all.

  64. WhichWitch says:

    I’ve been switching all my incandescent bulbs for CFLs as they burn out. The CFLs last longer and I figure if it saves me from having to drag out the ladder to replace bulbs frequently, it’s saving MY energy! I hate having to change light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures.

  65. mikey says:

    When will Conservatives live up to their billing and actually CONSERVE.

    Even if Global Warming is a complete global farce, what harm will come in reducing our energy usage?

  66. Religion_is_for_weak. says:

    people act like it’s the end of the world. You can still get halogens that have lower wattage and the same amount of light. You can still get all the specialty lights you have in your fancy lights.

    If you actually want to take advantage of this opportunity to reduce your energy consumption your choice is not just CFL’s. The future is LED lights. Very high quality light, instant on, dimmable, and it never burns out.

  67. Newsworthy says:

    I’m laughing at all this. Again, from a gubbernment view, we see the gubbernment propagandists using legislation to force society to change and promoting their central ‘we know better than you’ gubbernment strategy. It’s always a good sell to tell the ignorant people that ‘they will SAVE electricity’ if you only do this…. Lets see, the methanol program was also pushed with the promise of saving on gasoline….funny.. I haven’t saved anything because of this, in fact, I’m paying more for groceries because of the methanol program. Yes, gubbernment programs really help Americans save money and keep us all working….

  68. Toocan says:

    95 republicans voted for this, of which 55 are still in office, and the bill was signed into law by President Bush. Industry is lobbying to keep the bill, and incandescent bulbs are not being “outlawed”, so the consumer will have a choice. Are there any grown ups in the house?

  69. marvin says:

    Thankfully, this bill has zero chance of going anywhere.

    Representative Barton is an embarrassment to everyone in his district. The people represented in the House by this zealot should hang their head in shame.

  70. Jim says:

    Barton is a crackpot. His legislation has no chance to become law, and he knows it. He’s just tilting at windmills.

  71. BonJovi says:

    Why doesn’t he just wear a jacket like the NASCAR fans that has sponsors like Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil on it? I think his fans would love it and no one else will care.

  72. Master Race Card says:

    This guy has been a joke for a long time, his apology TO Tony Hayward and BP FOR the oil spill shows how out of touch he is and whom owns him.
    Those putting him in office need the mental health care that they’re denying our troops; because they label it “socialism”.

  73. Buda's Back says:

    The dim bulb from Texas makes a spectacle out of himself once again.

  74. Bambino says:

    I don’t have any problem using the new “energy-efficient” light bulbs if only they last as advertised. I have been a victim of at least 4, repeat 4 such bulbs that burned out within 6 months and manufactured by 2 different companies. Although the store replaced three and the other one replaced by a major company, I have stopped buying the same kind of bulbs and will stick to the old kind.

  75. georgex says:

    Switching to LED or CF is so advantageous to reducing the electricity needed in the country to the extent that 31 coal fired generation plants will not be necessary. Reducing the need for energy is the best approach. Of course, Rep. Barton is in love or under the influence of any kind of fossil burning. He is the one who even said that the U.S. should apologize to BP because of the harsh criticism over the oil spill disaster in the Gulf.

  76. Charles says:

    If someone would just make those CFLs in about 3 Small Towns USA, the economics of them might even improve some more. That is one heck of a long boat ride from China.

  77. Garrett says:

    Good point Jim, lets hope this guy doesn’t ever hear about Whale Oil Lamps, he’ll be sure to put a couple on his front entryway and defend the use of those too :)

  78. jim says:

    This is so ridiculous. Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient and energy-wasting light bulbs. They are not as luminous and durable as fluorescent bulbs and LEDs. Sure their styles look more attractive than the spiraling tube of fluorescent bulbs, even though markets now have fluorescent bulbs that hide the spirals inside a glass shell. Sure, the initial cost of purchase for fluorescent bulbs is higher, but what the idiotic portion of politicians who are against this bill don’t seem to understand is that in the long run, these light bulbs save consumers a large amount of money by lowering their electric bills AND reducing the amount of energy we are consuming each day. We don’t need 100 watt light bulbs to light up a bedroom when a 15 watt fluorescent bulb is capable of doing the job 10 times better.