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November 10th, 2010

Beware ‘the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones’

Published on November 10th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Meet the world of the guy who may chair the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee [emphasis added].:

The ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the men vying to be the next chair of the powerful panel when Republicans take over the House next year, [Texas Rep. Joe] Barton laid out his plan for, essentially, undoing most of what President Obama and Democrats accomplished in the past two years. He laid out the central fronts: the battle to repeal what he calls “Obamacare,” the fight against the EPA, backing the growing insurgency opposed to net neutrality regulations, taking on “environmental radicalism” and – of course – defending the “traditional, incandescent light bulb” against government regulators who want to replace it with what Barton called “the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones.”

Why stop there? What about the kerosene lamp and campfire lobbies?

Adding … the context of this is the most important thing. I am less concerned about individual members of Congress holding what may be less-than-scientific views than I am about specific members who seriously want to be considered for leading one of the most important Congressional committees. Barton has a pattern of what is, at best, intellectual clumsiness, such  of hinting at a belief at pseudo-scientific explanations and an unwillingness to hold himself above the fray.

Adding … a video of Barton’s comments is now available. The CFL comments start about the 14:00 minute mark.

Also adding … if my memory serves me correctly, the 2007 energy bill Barton refers to didn’t directly reference any specific type of light bulb, i.e., it didn’t outlaw incandescents or bless CFLs. This USA Today piece reports on this legislation pretty much as I remember it: It only mandated a phase-in of energy-efficient lighting, ending in 2020:

Under the measure, 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 January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70% more efficient.

Compact fluorescent bulbs already meet the 70% efficiency standard. A compact fluorescent costs about $2, vs. about 50 cents for an incandescent.

While an incandescent lasts about seven months, a fluorescent burns six times longer. It also saves about $5 a year in electricity costs, paying for itself in as little as four months, says Steve Nadel, head of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Other bulbs are emerging. Home Depot (HD) has started selling a $5 Philips halogen that’s 30% more efficient than incandescents. Its advantage: It doesn’t emit the yellowish tints that can characterizes fluorescents, and it can easily be used with a dimmer.

General Electric (GE) says it’ll develop an incandescent that’s 30% stingier than today’s bulbs by 2010. Earl Jones, a GE senior counsel, says it likely will cost more than current bulbs but less than a fluorescent.


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9 Responses to Beware ‘the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones’

  1. Alex says:

    I really don’t like the new squiggle bulbs after being urged by others I replaced all the lights in my house with these more efficient bulbs. After being in for only two hours and actually turned on for time spans between 10 minutes and 1 hour they where all burned out. What a wast of money. I called the manufacture, they assured me that the bulbs must be faulty So I exchanged them with similar results. I returned those ones and bought the cheep 4pack for 98 cent kind. They have lasted more than a year now. 14months to me more precise. I wont buy these energy saving bulbs ever again. Especially because we have no safe place to dispose if them around here… Hooray for $12 a month electric bills and cheep 25 cent bulbs!

  2. Theodore D. Taylor says:

    I believe that Peter Wray has done ACERS a great service by alerting us to what is coming. Scientists and engineers have an obligation to speak up when we see ignorance coming to the fore. Politicians are now being rated according to their affinity to “the common man.” This includes a large portion of ignorant people who suspect scientists and engineers simply because they don’t have the background to comprehend our work. People with solid technical backgrounds must make their voices heard. Politicians have been known to propose a value for Pi! (House Bill #246 in the Indiana House of Representatives).

    These new representatives need to be reassured of our good intentions. Simply removing legislation and government programs will not get us back to “the good ol’ days.”

  3. Peter Wray says:

    @steve – Thanks for giving me the opportunity to remind readers that the inset text indicates something someone else has written. In this case, everything between “The ranking member” and “pig-tailed ones.” was written by the TPM reporter.

  4. steve says:

    The fact that Wray lists Obamacare and EPA regulation of CO2 as “accomplishments” tells me all I need to know about his view of science.

  5. brian says:

    I concur with B Roenigk: Please leave the comments for an opinion blog. My opinion is that you will lose readers as you turn a science posting into a personal screed.

  6. lightbulbuser says:

    Well, CFB (compact fluorescent bulbs) don’t really work that well – they are slow to light up, they don’t dim well, and they don’t last anywhere near as long as advertised. Additionally, burnt out ones look very yellowed, indicating that the plastic has gotten hot – thus challenging the notion that they use so few watts. If they aren’t burning that many watts, why are they getting hot enough to yellow the plastic? If there are government regulations planned to ban incandescent light bulbs, that would be inane. What about specialty bulbs such as those used in optical microscopes? I can just see some poorly written piece of legislation crafted out of ideology rather than reality that could make it difficult or excessively costly to procure unique filament driven lighting products. Best to stay involved/informed in/about the process to make sure the results are appropriate.

  7. Gene Clark says:

    Sick! Sick!

  8. Emilio Spinosa says:

    He’s not the most frightening contender. John Shimkus is also vying for the post. His comments: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44958.html

  9. B ROENIGK says:

    Please let the readers evaluate the information without additional comments.

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