Aside from the attempted trickery in the headline, there is a serious issue behind this story. H.R. 5616 is back in play. For the neophytes, 5616 was the Bachmann-proposed bill from 2008 meant to blunt a law passed the prior year that would have changed the way Americans buy light bulbs starting next January. The new law was affectionately titled, Light Bulb Freedom of choice Act:
Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act - Amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to repeal provisions concerning energy efficiency standards for general service incandescent lamps, rough service lamps, other designated lamps, and incandescent reflector lamps unless the Comptroller General has transmitted to Congress within six months after this Act's enactment a report that finds that: (1) consumers will obtain a net savings, in terms of dollars spent on monthly electric bills and expenses for new light fixtures to accommodate the use of the light bulbs required by such provisions, compared to dollars spent before their enactment; (2) the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs required by such provisions will reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions by 20% in the United States by 2025; and (3) such phase-out will not pose any health risks, including risks associated with mercury containment in certain light bulbs, to consumers or the general public, including health risks with respect to hospitals, schools, day care centers, mental health facilities, and nursing homes.
Requires the report to include monthly and yearly projections of expenses for electric bills and new light fixtures for January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2017.
Almost two years from the date of the original pitch, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has re-introduced the bill stating:
"The government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy."
The 2011 version is officially listed as H.R. 849, and targets the elimination of two specific parts of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 dealing with energy-efficiency standards for incandescent and fluorescent bulbs and labeling standards. Bachmann's bill would permit the 2007 standards to survive if the comptroller general is able to prove the estimated savings to consumers, reduced carbon-dioxide emissions and that the presence of mercury in the new bulbs poses no health risks to consumers.
That last item, the part about proving the presence of a neurotoxin like mercury poses no health risk, is going to be tough to get past. When the law mandating the shift to the new bulbs was passed, even NPR took issue with the mercury problem.
Four other Republican Congressman have joined Ms. Bachmann as co-sponsors of the bill, including Ron Paul and Ted Poe of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia and Doug Lamborn of Colorado.