What if in 2025 a husband and wife decide they want to use old-fashioned incandescent bulbs in the sanctuary of their home? Will the light-bulb left defend their right to privacy and freedom of choice?
Don't count on it. Many Americans may not know it yet, but the federal government has already effectively banned the type of light bulb most of us use today.
In 2007, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act, mandating that household light bulbs use incrementally less electricity starting in 2012 and culminating in 2020, when they must use less than 70 percent of the electricity conventional incandescent bulbs use today.
Compact fluorescent bulbs already meet this standard. The congressional authors of the law understood they were, in essence, phasing out incandescent bulbs.
They did this, they said, to help save the planet from overheating. But the light-bulb left did not weigh -- or care about -- the unintended consequences of their crusade.
One of these consequences is the potential for an environment disaster in your family room.
You see, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury -- a bad, bad pollutant and health hazard that the Environmental Protection Agency has been sounding alarms about for years.
This put the EPA in a tough spot. On the one hand, it needed to applaud the politically correct use of fluorescent bulbs to save the planet. On the other hand, it needed to warn people that if they break a fluorescent bulb in their home it could poison the dog, the kid and the wall-to-wall rug.
So, the EPA published blatantly self-contradictory instructions about what to do if mercury spills at your house.
The first section is titled: "What Never to Do With a Mercury Spill."
It says: "Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury (but see the 'What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks' section below for more specific instructions about vacuuming broken fluorescent light bulbs). The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure."
Now, an obvious question: If you should "never" vacuum mercury because it "will put mercury into the air" and increase the exposure for your pets and preteens, why should you vacuum broken fluorescent light bulbs that contain mercury?
The EPA's answer would be farcical were the government not trying to force people to use fluorescent bulbs.
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