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Obama's Little Green Monsters

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

On one issue, President Barack Obama is depressingly consistent.

Just this week, he once again sounded the alarm about the dangers of fossil fuels and the need to pursue alternative sources of energy. He is also determined to purse “green” energy projects, despite some well publicized disasters such as Solyndra. In spite of $535 million in federal government loans, the solar panel manufacturer went bankrupt. The administration was able to stage some nice photo opportunities, but the public’s money was wasted.

A congressional investigation has been launched about how this project was selected. Ignoring warnings from federal bureaucrats, the politicians in the Obama White House were able to force this loan through, even though a normal vetting process was not followed. It seems that the administration will do almost anything to show the public it is friendly to “green” projects, even if those projects are not economically feasible.

Recently, a Washington Post story highlighted another laughable waste of public money on a “green” fantasy, affordable and efficient light bulbs. This mess was created back in 2007, when a bill was signed by President George W. Bush to phase out the popular and effective incandescent light bulb. This brilliant invention of Thomas Edison has been successfully lighting our homes and businesses for decades.

Sadly, environmental extremists pressured the Bush White House to agree to a death sentence for this popular bulb. In its place will be LED’s, light emitting diodes, which is wildly expensive. Another “green” bulb is the compact fluorescent. If these bulbs shatter, mercury is released and a potentially hazardous household condition has been created. If incandescent bulbs shatter, homeowners only need a broom, not a hazmat suit.

With energy efficient bulbs costing much more than Edison’s invention, the Obama administration announced it would rectify the problem. The Energy Department announced a $10 million award, the “L Prize” for any manufacturer who could create an affordable LED. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the contest would lead to bulbs that would be “affordable for American families.”

Of course the contest sounds good, especially when one of the requirements is that part of the bulb would have to be manufactured in the United States. So, the manufacturers began to work on the project and submit their entries to the Department of Energy.

After many months of supposedly tough competition, Secretary Chu announced the winner, made by Phillips. The bulb will carry the costly price tag of $50 each. What a bargain for consumers! The old, nasty incandescent bulb costs about $.79 each and now consumers, thanks to the U.S. government will be forced to buy bulbs that cost more than fifty times that amount.

This is ludicrous, considering how our economy is in the doldrums and the labor and housing markets have not recovered. Consumers cannot afford to be “green.” Most people would prefer to use the reliable incandescent light bulbs. Sadly, their choices will soon be very limited. The 100-watt incandescent light bulb will be eliminated this year, while the 75-watt bulb is terminated in 2013, soon followed by the 60-watt light bulb.

As noted by Washington Post reporter Peter Whoriskey, “How the expensive bulb won a $10 million government prize meant to foster energy-efficient affordability is one of the curiosities that arise as the country undergoes a massive, mandated turnover from traditional incandescent lamps to more energy-efficient ones.”

Curious indeed! In announcing the prize guidelines, the Energy Department encouraged manufacturers “to offer products at prices that prove cost-effective and attractive to buyers, and therefore more successful in the market.” In contrast, this expensive bulb is an insult to buyers, who will be forced to spend more on bulbs than on lighting fixtures.

In the name of energy efficiency, our federal government is forgetting about the very people it is supposedly serving, the hard working people of this country. Once again our liberal administration is making a sacrifice on the “green” altar. Let’s hope voters are getting tired of this agenda and will choose a more rational and economically feasible approach in November.

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