Fox & Friends Cheerleads GOP Efforts To Repeal Light Bulb Efficiency Standards

››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

Fox & Friends promoted a GOP-backed effort to repeal sections of a 2007 law setting efficiency standards for light bulbs, falsely suggesting that the law bans incandescent bulbs and featuring on-screen screen text that stated: "Don't touch our bulbs!" In fact, the law only restricts the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs, not all incandescent bulbs, as Fox & Friends suggested.

House To Vote On GOP-Backed Bill To Repeal Light Bulb Efficiency Law

The House Will Reportedly Vote On A GOP-Backed Bill To Repeal Light Bulb Efficiency Standards. The Hill reported on July 7 that the House is expected to vote on legislation sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that would "repeal sections of a 2007 energy law that require[s] traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient beginning in 2012." From The Hill:

House Republicans introduced legislation Wednesday they hope to bring to the floor next week that would repeal a light bulb efficiency law.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), would repeal sections of a 2007 energy law that require traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient beginning in 2012.

[...]

The bill Barton introduced Wednesday would repeal the light bulb efficiency law. It also includes a provision specifying that the efficiency standards can not be met solely with bulbs that contain mercury. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which are much more efficient than incandescents, contain mercury. Barton introduced similar legislation earlier this year.

Republicans have cast the 2007 law as a "light bulb ban," even though the language doesn't explicitly ban incandescent bulbs. Still, Republicans say the law will disadvantage incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL bulbs. LEDs and CFLs are significantly more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. [The Hill, 7/7/11]

"Let There Be Light!" Fox & Friends Cheerleads GOP Efforts While Suggesting "Kooky" 2007 Law Bans Incandescent Bulbs

Doocy: House Attempting To Repeal "Kooky Law That Said Incandescent Bulbs ... Got To Go Away." On the July 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed House Republicans' efforts to repeal light bulb efficiency standards. Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that the House is attempting to repeal "that kooky law that said incandescent bulbs ... got to go away." From Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: Let's talk a little bit about something known as the Better Use Of Light Bulbs Act, B-U-L-B Act, later on today in the House of Representatives they're going to bring this up. And what it is, is it's -- they're going to try to repeal -- you know, Congress passed that kooky law that said incandescent bulbs, like this, got to go away; got to use those pigtail things that are made in China that have mercury in them, instead of the bulbs made by American workers. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/11/11]

Kilmeade: "We Can Still Stop It. We Can Still Save The Bulb If We Act Now"; Claims Incandescent Bulbs Are "Like Contraband Now." From the July 11 Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): The other thing is, a lot of American jobs were lost as a result of this, which I think is the most important thing to discuss today, with only 18,000 new jobs being created in June. A lot of those companies -- well, all of them, I think -- all those companies that made the light bulb that we all grew up with? They're gone. Now these new light bulbs are being made, I believe, in China, and so you might wonder about whether or not we should save the old light bulb just to save some jobs here in this country.

[CROSSTALK]

KILMEADE: Yeah, they're like contraband now, because if you have a light bulb, you're just hoarding them.

[...]

KILMEADE: I will say this, we can still stop it. We can still save the bulb if we act now. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/11/11]

Doocy: GOP Congresswoman Says "If You Want Your Light Bulbs Back, You Should Get On The Phone To Your Member Of Congress Today." From the July 11 Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: That's why they're going to bring this up today; they're going to vote on it tomorrow. We have a graphic. Could we put it up real quickly just to show you how much the price comparison is? Look at that. Regular incandescent hundred-watter: 60 cents. You buy the 25-watt compact fluorescent, $3.40. Marcia Blackburn was on this program, she's a congresswoman, of course, she's one of the co-sponsors. She says that if you want your light bulbs back, you should get on the phone to your member of Congress today, they're going to vote on it tomorrow. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/11/11]

Fox & Friends On-Screen Text Fights Against Incandescent Light Bulb "Ban." During the same segment, the following on-screen text aired:

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[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/11/11]

Varney: "We Have A Jihad Against The New Light Bulbs, Because There Is A Vote In Congress This Week Which Will Keep Those Wonderful Incandescent Bulbs." Earlier on the July 11 Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney promoted his upcoming program by saying: "We have a jihad against the new light bulbs, because there is a vote in Congress this week which will keep those wonderful incandescent bulbs, and we're on it." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/11/11]

But The 2007 Law Does Not Ban Incandescent Bulbs, Only "Creates New Standards For Them"

The Energy Independence And Security Act Sets "Energy Efficiency Standards" For Incandescent Bulbs, But Doesn't Ban Them. From Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007:

Subtitle B: Lighting Energy Efficiency - (Sec. 321) Amends EPCA [the Energy Policy and Conservation Act] to prescribe energy efficiency standards for general service incandescent lamps, rough service lamps, and other designated lamps.

Directs the Secretary of Energy to: (1) conduct and report to the FTC on an annual assessment of the market for general service lamps and compact fluorescent lamps; and (2) carry out a proactive national program of consumer awareness, information, and education about lamp labels and energy-efficient lighting choices. Authorizes appropriations for FY2009-FY2012.

[...]

Instructs the Secretary of Energy to report to Congress on: (1) federal measures to reduce or prevent release of mercury during the manufacture, transportation, storage, or disposal of light bulbs; (2) whether specified rulemaking deadlines will be met; (3) an NAS review of advanced solid state lighting R&D and the impact upon the types of lighting available to consumers of an energy conservation standard requiring a minimum of 45 lumens per watt for general service lighting; and (4) the time frame for commercialization of lighting to replace incandescent and halogen incandescent lamp technology.

(Sec. 322) Sets forth minimum energy efficiency standards for incandescent reflector lamps.

(Sec. 323) Amends federal law governing congressional approval of proposed public buildings projects to require the Administrator of General Services (GSA) to: (1) transmit to Congress an estimate of the future energy performance of the building or space and a specific description of the use of energy efficient and renewable energy systems, including photovoltaic systems; and (2) include, with respect to space to be leased, the minimum performance requirements for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Sets forth requirements for the use of energy efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs in public building construction, alteration, and acquisition.

(Sec. 324) Amends EPCA to include within its regulatory oversight: (1) metal halide lamp fixtures; and (2) energy efficiency labeling for designated consumer electronic products. [Public Law No. 110-140, 12/19/07, emphasis in original]

Energy Independence And Security Act Passed Congress With Broad Bipartisan Support; Was Signed Into Law By Bush. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed with the support of 95 Republicans in the House and 39 in the Senate. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 19, 2007. [Govtrack.us, accessed 3/4/11; Library of Congress, accessed 7/11/11]

AFP: 2007 Law "Does Not Ban Incandescent Bulbs, But Creates New Standards For Them." From a June 25 Agence France-Press (AFP) article titled, "US lightbulb rules spark new political fight":

Some consumers have also begun hoarding the old incandescent bulbs based on an erroneous fear that these will be banned starting January 1 and consumers will be forced to buy compact fluorescent or other new types of bulbs.

The US law does not ban incandescent bulbs, but creates new standards for them, basically requiring increased efficiency, so that the bulbs with a lighting equivalent of 100 watts consume just 72 watts. [AFP, 6/25/11]

Philips Electronics Executive: "There Has Been No Ban On The Incandescent Light Bulb." From a December 9, 2010, NPR interview with Philips Electronics Vice President Randy Moorhead:

SHOGREN: So will the government really take away your choice in light bulbs?

Randy Moorhead, vice president and lobbyist for Philips Electronics, says no.

Mr. RANDY MOORHEAD (Vice President, Philips Electronics): There has been no ban on the incandescent light bulb. The incandescent light bulb actually lives. It's just going to be 30 percent more efficient.

SHOGREN: An energy bill signed by President Bush three years ago requires light bulbs to use at least 30 percent less electricity than traditional bulbs. But Moorhead says in anticipation of the new standards, companies like his have started selling new incandescent bulbs that comply with the law. They're made with a slightly different technology than Thomas Edison's invention. They use halogen gas. Moorhead says consumers won't notice a difference in the way they look or work compared to old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

Mr. MOORHEAD: They're just going to find their electricity bills are a lot lower. [NPR, 12/9/10]

PolitiFact: "Current Law Does Not Ban Incandescents, But Rather Says Most Light Bulbs Must Meet Increased Efficiency Standards By 2012." PolitiFact has stated of the Energy Independence and Security Act:

The current law does not ban incandescents, but rather says most light bulbs must meet increased efficiency standards by 2012. The standards themselves, which were developed later, include several exceptions for incandescent light bulbs, including three-way bulbs, colored lights, bug lights or plant lights. [PolitiFact, 3/6/09]

Moreover, American Manufacturers Offer A Wide Variety Of Bulbs, Including Energy-Efficient Incandescents

2007 Energy Bill Reportedly Spurring "A Tremendous Amount Of Development." From a January 24 Philadelphia Inquirer column:

Walk down today's lighting aisle, and it's intimidating.

Incandescents. Halogens. CFLs. LEDs. All sizes. All shapes. All colors, from warm white to a crisp bluish tint. And more to come.

So read on for a tour of the ever-burgeoning bulb-land.

"There's a tremendous amount of development," said Brian Fortenbery, an energy efficiency lighting expert with the Electric Power Research Institute, a national nonprofit. "It's not a one-technology game, by any stretch."

Driving the change is a provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act that Congress passed in 2007, during the George W. Bush administration.

It set energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs [sic], which will begin to phase in come Jan. 1, 2012. [Philadelphia Inquirer, GreenSpace, 1/24/11]

GE, Sylvania, Philips All Developing Incandescent Bulbs That Will Meet Efficiency Requirements. According to The New York Times:

When Congress passed a new energy law two years ago, obituaries were written for the incandescent light bulb. The law set tough efficiency standards, due to take effect in 2012, that no traditional incandescent bulb on the market could meet, and a century-old technology that helped create the modern world seemed to be doomed.

But as it turns out, the obituaries were premature.

[...]

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

"There's a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly," said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. "There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades."

[...]

With the new efficiency standards, experts predict more companies will develop specialized reflective coatings for incandescents. The big three lighting companies -- General Electric, Osram Sylvania and Philips -- are all working on the technology, as is Auer Lighting of Germany and Toshiba of Japan.

And a wave of innovation appears to be coming. David Cunningham, an inventor in Los Angeles with a track record of putting lighting innovations on the market, has used more than $5 million of his own money to develop a reflective coating and fixture design that he believes could make incandescents 100 percent more efficient. [The New York Times, 7/5/09]

GE Offers Incandescent Halogen Bulb Which "Operates Up To 22 Percent More Efficiently" Than The Traditional Incandescent Bulb. From a February 14 General Electric press release:

U.S. consumers shopping for light bulbs this Valentine's Day and in the coming months may notice changes on retail store shelves: fewer incandescent bulbs and a wider selection of energy-efficient incandescent halogen bulbs. GE Lighting offers a light bulb that looks like the century-old and beloved incandescent bulb, produces nearly the same light output but operates up to 22 percent more efficiently.

Today, U.S. consumers can find GE's incandescent halogen bulbs--clear and Reveal® clear versions (MSRP $5-$7)--nationwide in two-packs in 29-, 43-, 53- and 72-watt varieties that dim and turn on instantly like their 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulb cousins that are phasing out of production between 2012 and 2014 as a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (learn more at www.gelighting.com/2012).

[...]

"A bulb that uses less energy costs less to run," says John Strainic, global product general manager, GE Lighting. "Halogen is an incandescent technology with a big efficiency advantage over standard incandescent bulbs. Each of the bulbs in this line-up consumes fewer watts than the incandescent bulbs we've all used for decades, while delivering a precise dimming capability and a bright, crisp light."

[...]

GE has produced incandescent halogen spotlights and general service light bulbs for accent and general lighting for many years. The technology is in the spotlight now more than ever because governments around the world have instituted new laws that set higher efficiency levels for lighting. The greater efficiency of GE's incandescent halogen bulbs enable them to comply with the lighting efficiency laws on the horizon in the U.S. and globally. [General Electric, 2/14/11]

Detroit News: Stores Feature A Host Of [Bulb] Options That Weren't There Just A Few Years Ago." From an article in The Detroit News titled, "Consumers have many options for energy-efficient light bulbs":

Stroll through any store that carries light bulbs these days and you'll find a host of options that weren't there just a few years ago. Next to your old incandescent lights, you'll find twisty-looking compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, cone-shaped light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, or stubby-looking halogens, each offering more energy savings than ever before -- some by more than 75 percent -- while lasting years longer. [The Detroit News, via Media Matters, 2/13/11]

Home Depot Features Six Varieties Of Bulb Options, Including Incandescent. From Home Depot's light bulb resource page:

Saving Energy at Home

In January 2011, a multi-year phase-out of incandescent bulbs begins as part of the nation's move toward clean energy. Now is the perfect time to try out one of the many energy efficient, long lasting alternatives to standard incandescent light bulbs.

light

[Home Depot, accessed 3/4/11, emphasis in original]

Lowe's: "You Have More Choices Than Ever When It Comes To Buying Light Bulbs." Lowe's "Light Bulb Buying Guide" notes that "[w]ith incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFL) or halogen, you have more choices than ever when it comes to buying light bulbs." [Lowe's, accessed 3/4/11]

Incandescents Are Less Expensive Up Front, But Alternatives Last Longer And Are Much Cheaper To Operate. According to The Sacramento Bee:

At $1 to $2 each, CFLs and halogen bulbs are affordable, but incandescent bulbs are downright cheap. The average price for a four-pack of 60-watt incandescent bulbs is $1.10. But the energy savings from CFLs quickly add up.

"(Incandescents) cost 25 cents a bulb, but $7 to operate" over their lifetime, Home Depot's Fernandez said, "while a CFL costs $1.50, and $1.50 to operate, and they last a lot longer."

Also qualifying under the new standards are LEDs, which offer the greatest efficiency and extremely long life -- often decades. LEDs are expensive, $25 a bulb for some brands. But their prices are plummeting as demand goes up.

"We've seen LED prices go down 25 to 30 percent in just the last six months," Fernandez said. [The Sacramento Bee, 2/26/11]

Additionally, Misinformation About Light Bulbs Has Reportedly Been "Deeply Irritating To Light Bulb Manufacturers And Retailers"

New York Times: Conservative Misinformation About Light Bulbs "Has Been Deeply Irritating To Light Bulb Manufacturers And Retailers." A May 25 article in the New York Times stated:

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. At a Congressional hearing in March, Kyle Pitsor, a representative from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a trade group that represents makers of light bulbs, among others, patiently but clearly disputed claims that the law banned incandescent bulbs. He restated the law's points and averred light bulb makers' support for the law. As usual, it seemed as if no one was paying attention.

[...]

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." [The New York Times, 5/25/11]

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