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Green Police: California, British Columbia Ban Incandescent Light Bulbs

What better to ring in the New Year than a slew of new laws ranging from Obamacare to the green movement.  The wonderful state of California, with its equally impressive debt, is celebrating 2011 with 725 new laws and increased regulation, including the banning of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs to satisfy the unsatisfiable environmental movement.  Fortunately, California is offering an alternative to compact florescent lights (CFLs), which, unfortunately, can't be said for the British Columbia.

California is the first state to ban the incandescent bulb.  The entire country will be forced to do the same on January 1, 2012, thanks to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 signed by then-President George W. Bush with the Democratic-controlled Congress.  The National Resources Defense Council, a radical, liberal environmental group, played a key role in the passage of the bill.

Replacing the 100-watt bulb will be a 72-watt "energy saving halogen light," which supposedly produces the same amount of light with less energy.  Consumers are still allowed to use and purchase remaining 100-watt incandescent bulbs on store shelves.  The ban applies to manufacturing.

"Consumers will still have the same amount of light they need for the task at hand.  But they'll see lower electricity bills."

Estimates project the switch will save Californians $35 million in energy expenses, but the bulbs cost more up front.

Regulation means you get less of something.  Liberalism always generates the opposite of its stated intent, so we'll see how California adjusts to the change this year since they couldn't wait to enforce the new law until 2012.

In British Columbia, though, the government has taken the ban a bit further.  Retailers are banned from ordering 75 and 100-watt incandescent bulbs once their existing stock runs out.  They're only allowed to sell CFLs from that point foward.  CFLs use less electricity and last longer, but the bulbs use mercury.  The 5mg of mercury in just one CFL bulb is enough to make 6000 gallons of water toxic.  The bulbs can't be thrown out; they need to be recycled in a specific manner.  If the bulbs break you might as well quarantine the affected area.  Additionally, the bulbs take about 10 minutes to reach their full lighting ability.

What's interesting about California is that they had the time to pass this legislation, yet, they couldn't even approve a budget.  We'll see how the law of unintended consequences impacts the state this year before the switch is made nationwide.  The 100-watt incandescent bulb is just the beginning.  The 75, 60 and 40-watt bulbs will be replaced by 53, 43 and 29-watt "energy saving halogen lights" respectively in the years to come.

Chuck Justice is the editor-in-chief for Habledash.

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