For months, conservative media outlets have assailed the light bulb efficiency standards signed into law by President Bush in 2007 and scheduled to take effect in 2012, falsely claiming that the legislation banned incandescent bulbs or that consumers would be forced to buy compact fluorescent lamps.
Today the New York Times reports on widespread confusion among consumers about the phase-out of traditional incandescents and notes the role that conservative media outlets have played in spreading misconceptions. The article also quotes Joseph Higbee, a spokesman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, who says "misinformation has been promoted by a number of media outlets":
For years, Glenn Beck, among other conservative pundits and personalities, has proclaimed the death of the incandescent light bulb as a casualty of the "nanny state" (never mind that the light bulb legislation is a Bush-era act), and he has been exhorting his listeners to hoard 100-watt light bulbs (along with gold and canned food). This year, conservative politicians took a leaf from his playbook, introducing bills like the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, courtesy of Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, that would repeal the 2007 legislation.
The hubbub has been deeply irritating to light bulb manufacturers and retailers, which have been explaining the law, over and over again, to whomever will listen.
Joseph Higbee, a spokesman for the electrical manufacturers association, offered his take on the situation: "Unfortunately people do not yet understand this lighting transition, and mistakenly think they won't be able to buy incandescent light bulbs. This misinformation has been promoted by a number of media outlets. Incandescent light bulbs are not being banned, and the new federal energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs do not mandate the use of CFLs. My hope is that the media can help the American people understand the energy-efficient lighting options available, as opposed to furthering misconceptions."