Fox's “Light Bulb Ban” Does Not Exist

Since the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed in 2007, right-wing media have claimed that it will outlaw incandescent light bulbs. In fact, the bill, signed by President Bush, only sets standards for light bulbs and does not ban all incandescent bulbs, only inefficient ones.

Perino, Varney Claim There Is A “Ban” On “Incandescent Light Bulbs”

Perino Refers To “Ban Of Incandescent Light Bulbs,” Suggests Consumers Will Be Forced To Buy “Pigtails” [CFL] Bulbs. During the January 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts brought on Fox News contributor Dana Perino to discuss her comments on the Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 in The Washington Post. During the segment, she claimed that the bill included a “ban on incandescent light bulbs.” From the show:

CO-HOST STEVE DOOCY: Hey, I opened up The Washington Post yesterday, down in D.C., and there you were in the editorial pages making some predictions on what to expect in the coming year. And interestingly enough, you take a shot at the light bulb.

PERINO: Yeah -- am the only one that's tired of the blue light bulbs that are being phased in? In 2007, I remember when the energy bill passed in the lame duck session, and President Bush signed the bill. It was a comprehensive bill, and included in it was a ban of incandescent light bulbs. It was billed as a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs in America, these green jobs you keep hearing about. And then -- I started panicking, because I thought, I hate those new lights. I hate them. They look blue --

DOOCY: The pig tails.

PERINO: -- and they drive me crazy. Plus -- yeah, the ones that are pigtails. Plus, if they break, their mercury content is so high, it can be quite dangerous. So for moms out there, they should be worried about that. Anyway, while a lot of people in that editorial page yesterday took very serious predictions about bipartisanship, I actually talked about something that I think will get done. Congressman [Michael] Burgess has a bill to reverse the ban. I think Marsha Blackburn supports it too. Chairman [Fred] Upton says he'll move it through. [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 01/03/11]

Varney Says He Wants To "[Get] Rid Of This Ban On Incandescent Light Bulbs." During the January 4 edition of Fox & Friends, guest and Fox Business host Stuart Varney told the co-hosts he would be having Rep. Marsha Blackburn on his show, Varney & Co., later in the day, to discuss the “ban.” Varney said, “We are teamed on getting rid of this ban on incandescent light bulbs” and added, “This really creates outrage across the country.” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 01/04/11]

But The Law Does Not Ban Incandescent Light Bulbs

Act Allows For “Energy Efficiency Standards” For “General Service Incandescent Lamps.” Under Title III, Subtitle B of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, according to the Library of Congress:

Title III: Energy Savings Through Improved Standards for Appliance and Lighting


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. 324) Amends EPCA to include within its regulatory oversight: (1) metal halide lamp fixtures; and (2) energy efficiency labeling for designated consumer electronic products. [THOMAS,, accessed 01/04/11]

NYT: “Congress Has Not Specifically Outlawed Incandescent Bulbs, Only Inefficient Ones.” A New York Times article published the week the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed said that “when 2012 hits, stores can no longer sell the cheap but inefficient incandescent light bulbs that are fixtures in most homes” but later noted, “Congress has not specifically outlawed incandescent bulbs, only inefficient ones.” [The New York Times, 12/22/07]

Bill Does Not Force Sale of CFL Light Bulbs

Star Tribune: Bill “Doesn't Mean You Will Be Forced To Use CFLs To Light Your House.” An April 2010 post on a Star Tribune blog noted that "[t]here is no ban on incandescent light bulbs" and further explained:

The word “ban” isn't [in the bill]. What is there, is a set of standards for making light bulbs more efficient phased in from 2012 to 2014.

Look carefully and you'll also see a whole list of exceptions including: 3-way light light bulbs, 40-watt appliance bulbs and other specialty bulbs, 22 exceptions in all.

O.k., so the bill doesn't say “ban,” but many claim that the standards effectively bans incandescent, because light bulbs today can't meet them. So we're being forced to buy compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

That's not exactly right, either.

Incandescent bulbs, as they have been made for generations, were very wasteful. Who cared? We had lots of energy and it was cheap. Not anymore. The incandescent bulbs of old won't meet the standards. But it doesn't mean you will be forced to use CFLs to light your house. You can buy incandescent light bulbs now, ones that meet the standard.

Manufacturers now offer a high-efficiency version of the incandescent light bulb for the general duty 60-watt and 100-watt light bulbs: No curly pig tail. No hazardous mercury. The bulbs use a filament inside a bulb that looks like the familiar old light bulb . And their wattages might make more sense, too. Because they are so efficient, however, you'll be using a 40-watt where you use a 60-watt and 70-watt where you used 100-watt, and get the same amount of light.

They are called halogen, and I found them at my local homes store under brand names Philips, they call their's Halogena, and GE.

The Halogena I bought was an easy-to-use screw-in light bulb that came on immediately, no warm up, and it's fully dimmable.

They're just the beginning. The bill is meant to prod manufacturers to improve their products. They are. More and more light bulbs that meet the energy standards are being introduced, including LED light bulbs. They're more costly than the light bulbs we remember, but prices will fall. (Look at the price of CFLs, for example.) Besides, these new bulbs cost less to operate and, because they last longer, you'll be buying fewer bulbs. The price of the efficient bulbs could end up being very close to the cost of the older version. [, 04/12/10]