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By Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
January 8, 2008

At the end of 2007, President George W. Bush quietly signed an extensive energy bill that in part promises to phase-out 100-watt incandescent light bulbs in 2012 and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs by 2014.

For the first time in close to 35 years Americans have a new energy bill titled, "The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007." But unlike past presidential bill signings, there was no fanfare nor media coverage usually reserved for such events.

All light bulbs must use 25 percent to 30 percent less wattage by 2014 (which means that the next generation of "high-efficiency" incandescents will remain permitted) and be 70% more efficient (the same as today's compact fluorescent lamps) by 2020.

Bush critics say that while he appears to be pandering to radical environmentalists and his new best friend Bill Clinton, the so-called Greenies are still disappointed that it will take the US at least another 12 years to use energy efficient lighting technologies which are already available, and sees this legislation as a missed opportunity to make a 70% cut in energy use within 3-5 years.

Conservatives say that the US Congress passed an extensive energy bill that contains a little-known provision designed to phase out the 125-year-old incandescent light bulb in the next four to 12 years.

Under the new law, all light bulbs must use 25% to 30% less energy than today's products by 2012 to 2014. The phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70% more efficient.

Incandescents were invented over 120 years ago, and environmentalists claim they could be replaced by many superior technologies if only the right regulations and financial incentives were put in place.

The alternative to the incandescents is the Compact Fluorescent Lamp. However, observers believe CFLs present their own environmental problems.

"These bulbs contain mercury. That's the only way they can work. The mercury vapor reacts to electricity to produce the light," said Paul Hemingway writing on presidential candidate Ron Paul's web site.

"This is another case of the cart before the horse. With rare exception, there is no safe way to dispose of these bulbs. They are ending up in landfills and lots of them are broken. The mercury will be seeping into the ground and our water supplies," he wrote.

"A few states were fighting against the ban on incandescent light bulbs. Now they are backing away from it. This is just another major government intrusion into our lives," said conservative political strategist Michael Baker.

To date, over 30 countries (including the members of the European Union, the US, China and Australia) have had a look at the available lighting technologies and decided that the case for the banning of domestic incandescent light bulbs stacks up.

Radical environmentalists in Britain claim the UK's ban of incandescents will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2-3 million tons. Similarly the EU's annual emissions will be reduced by 23 million tons. Meanwhile, the Chinese government's decision to stop manufacturing 70% of the world's incandescent light bulbs will reduce the world's annual carbon emissions by even more, according to some environmentalists.

But it's the United States that is setting the standards for the world when it comes to environmental issues and Republicans in the White House and in the legislature appear ready to go along with the wishes of militant environmentalists.


It's this kind of activity by a Republican president and congressmen that has turned off millions of conservatives from the GOP. For example, a poll of 1,015 conservative activists and donors shows that 77 percent are either seriously disappointed with Republican Congressional leaders or want them replaced.

The survey also found that 54 percent of conservatives feel so abandoned by current Congressional leaders and President Bush that they plan to reduce their contributions and/or grassroots work for GOP candidates in the next election. And 70 percent would support a principled conservative challenger running against an established incumbent Republican in a GOP primary.

"Conservatives feel betrayed by the Republican leaders, and they want them replaced," said Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of Conservative HQ, which sponsored the survey.

"Conservatives, who form the GOP's base, provided most of the volunteers and money to elect a Republican-controlled House and Senate -- and wound up with bigger government as a result. Now more than half of these committed activists say they'll reduce or end their involvement in the upcoming elections -- which could prove devastating for the GOP."

Asked how they feel about the Republican members of Congress, 48 percent of conservatives report being "disappointed" and an additional 32 percent think they "should be replaced."

Asked to grade the GOP-controlled Congress, 73 percent gave it a D or F on "controlling government spending;" 73 percent gave it a D or F on "reducing illegal immigration;" and 54 percent gave it an "overall grade" of D or F.

Sixty-three percent gave Bush a D or F on controlling government spending.

Perhaps most troublesome for the GOP is how that anger may affect the upcoming elections: 51 percent of donors said they plan to reduce or end their financial support.

"This is a recipe for Republicans losing. Republican leaders need to comprehend that if they govern as liberals, they will lose the support of conservatives," Viguerie said in a press release.

According to Green Watch, a conservative environmental group, ever since the first annual Earth Day in 1970, environmental organizations have grown increasingly vocal. Supported by wealthy foundations and in some cases government grants, these tax-exempt groups orchestrate political, legal and public relations campaigns that aim to protect and improve the environment.

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"But green activism, however well intentioned, often harms the environment it would save from Corporate America. It misrepresents the real gains made in cleaning the nations air and water," according to Green Watch, a group that informs the public and policy makers regarding false claims by so-called environmentalists and their scientists.

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"These bulbs contain mercury. That's the only way they can work.The mercury vapor reacts to electricity to produce the light," said Paul Hemingway writing on presidential candidate Ron Paul's web site.