Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Energy Independence and Security Act; Part II

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.

~Thomas Jefferson~

Never was this sage wisdom truer than when congress and the president decided to save the planet by making Americans change their lives for the good of mankind. You have already seen how the 822 page ‘Energy Independence and Security Act’ (‘EISA’) provides neither “independence” nor “security”; now let’s examine ‘the rest of the story’.

First, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, correctly said, "This bill fails to increase the use of essential domestic energy resources and expand domestic refining capacity." Inhofe added "Absent from this 'energy bill' are increased oil and natural gas exploration, expansion of nuclear energy and the development of clean coal technologies - all essential to securing an American energy supply that is stable, diverse, and affordable.”

Among the provisions of this elaborate legislation that exceeds the Congress' enumerated powers is the ban of sales of the incandescent light bulb. "This is government command-and-control we might expect from the old Soviet Union and today's Cuba and Venezuela, not the United States of America."

Soon, the old-fashioned 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will not be available in stores. I predict that initially prices of light bulbs will go down as stores seek to reduce inventory, then prices will rise as ‘old fashioned’ light bulbs become as rare as the three-gallon toilet. So if you still want to read in your recliner, stock up while you can.

One portion of the bill sets new efficiency standards for appliances and will make the incandescent bulb virtually extinct by the middle of the next decade. The bill will phase out conventional incandescent bulbs, starting in 2012, with 100-watt bulbs, ultimately replaced by fluorescent bulbs and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The law additionally mandates that federal buildings renovated or newly constructed in 2010 and later reduce their fossil-fuel-generated consumption; first by 55 percent in 2010 and 100 percent by 2030, by use of low-energy light bulbs but says nothing about providing flashlights or lanterns for workers in the event lighting in work areas is reduced.

“In this bill, we ban by 2012 the famously inefficient 100-watt incandescent bulb,” said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who co-sponsored that provision. "Most of us still use the same glass and filament bulbs that Thomas Edison invented 128 years ago. When it comes to illumination, we still live in a cave."

"We must change the way we consume and produce energy in this country. Sometimes the most effective, accessible ideas are the smallest. One small change that everyone can make is as simple as changing a light bulb," Harman said.

She noted the plan does include exemptions for circumstances in the military, medical or public safety fields where other lighting would be needed. [Editor’s note: if these changes are so great, why should there be any exceptions.] "But these would be small exceptions rather than the rule," she said. In such cases, someone selling such a bulb would be required to seek a waiver and have it approved by a Department of Energy panel, and those waivers would be good only for two years, "pushing the market toward more innovation," she noted. [Editor’s note: imagine that?]

Harmon also said "The continued widespread use of incandescent lighting results in low overall efficiency, high energy costs and output, and in the end, tons and tons of harmful carbon emissions. According to the Department of Energy, one energy efficient bulb can prevent the release of over 450 pounds of greenhouse gases. This legislation, while a small step, could have an enormous impact. And hopefully, it can help transform American into an energy-efficient and energy-independent nation".

It is part of the effort to counter the dire forecasts made by former Vice President Al Gore and others that unless something changes, global warming will melt icecaps, raise ocean levels, drown polar bears and erase coastal cities.

However, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said, that the "facts" used in Gore's film simply are not supported by science, and if Gore's plan would be followed specifically, there would be no new businesses, cars or even people allowed in the United States. [Editor’s note: and 400 scientists recently published agreement with Inhofe.]

"You just gave us an idea for a straight CO2 freeze, if I heard you correctly. I think that's an idea that's flawed. If you take that literally, we can add no new industry, nor new cars and trucks on our streets, and apparently no new people," Barton, who represents the 6th District in Texas, told Gore at a congressional hearing. "People are mobile-source emitters. Every person emits 0.2 tons of CO2 a year, so an absolute true freeze would be no new industry, no new people, and no new cars."

While standard light bulbs cost about 50 cents, the spiral CFL sells for about $3. However advocates argue that the CFL lasts five years longer and uses about 75 percent less energy. But they do not mention the presence of small amounts of highly toxic mercury in CFLs poses problems for consumers when breakage occurs and for disposal when bulbs eventually burn out. Mercury, a highly persistent and toxic chemical, can build up to dangerous concentrations in fish, wildlife, and human beings. An enormous environmental hazard is created by the mass introduction of billions of CFLs with few disposal sites and a public unfamiliar with the risks. The public is generally unaware of the risks of CFLs and recycling experts say the solutions are at least five years away. Nevertheless the Department of Energy is encouraging citizens to "take a pledge to replace at least one incandescent bulb with a CFL."

Earlier congress went into our toilets to dictate what kind of commodes we could have; now congress wants to tinker with standards for lighting, commercial and government buildings, and appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and freezers. It also tells the Energy Department to issue efficiency standards more quickly, whether we like it or not.

The European Union is a trailblazer in limiting the public’s choices. EU directives by public officials will soon force manufacturers to produce more "efficient" bulbs in greater numbers.

"We expect that legally binding eco-standards will be set for energy efficiency and therefore gradually you would only be able to buy those light bulbs that meet the target. So effectively it would phase out the inefficient ones," the official said.

The new law also includes language that would create an electric reliability organization (ERO) with the ability to develop and enforce mandatory reliability standards in North America; another layer of bureaucrats dictating how we should and will live.

Republicans criticized the new law as a "no energy bill" because it doesn't open new U.S. acreage to oil and natural gas drilling. They said the bill will do nothing to curb soaring prices for gasoline and home heating fuels.


"There's nothing in here that's going to lower gas prices in America ... nothing that is going to help American families deal with heating costs this winter ... nothing to increase production," said Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.

These Republicans got it right; too bad so many other Republicans got it wrong.

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