Monday, June 30, 2008

Constitutionality of Light Bulb Ban Questioned

According to Alyssa Farah of World Net Daily:

"Members of Congress are beginning to have second thoughts about the ban on incandescent light bulbs effective 2014 as a result of an energy bill signed into law earlier this year."
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, as political feel-good ideas go. It's a sure bet with environmentalists. The forced use of compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL's) will produce a bonanza of government involvement in daily life, government jobs and regulation surrounding their disposal. That was surely clear from the beginning.

So is this truly belated concern with constitutionality, or is it sudden political CYA? Is it becoming clear to voters that this 'energy bill' provision entangles every single person in the U.S. in the hated, dark maze of government agencies and regulation, just to dispose of a light bulb? For example, there's this from the EPA:
If your state or local environmental regulatory agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the fluorescent light bulb in two plastic bags and seal it before putting it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next normal trash collection. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a fluorescent light bulb or any other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.
Two plastic bags will no doubt contain the environmental hazard, as the bag travels from compactor to landfill, and beyond. But, how do I really know that there will be no dreaded incinerator? (Thank God there are no scofflaws, who will just throw the things willy-nilly into the trash.) The option?
Recycling these light bulbs will reduce the chance that mercury ends up in the environment. Household hazardous waste collections usually accept these light bulbs. For information specific to your state, contact your state environmental regulatory agency. Find out what household hazardous waste collection and recycling programs are available in your area by visiting Where You Live or
Ho-kay. Here I stand with my burned out CFL. I don't know who's doing what with the trash, so good citizen that I am, I don my government-approved jacket (Oh - my mistake. They haven't done that yet.) and prepare to hand carry the damn thing to the EPA approved CFL graveyard, wherever that is. Here are my EPA instructions:
Transporting Used Fluorescent Light Bulbs to a Waste Collection Facility
Households can transport fluorescent light bulbs to local household hazardous waste collection facilities that accept these light bulbs. Caution should be taken when transporting hazardous waste. If possible, use the original product container or label the container if the contents are different from the label on the container. Cover all containers with a secure fitting lid and pack containers upright in a leak-proof box. Find out what household hazardous waste collection and recycling programs are available in your area by visiting Where You Live or
I take off my soon-to-be-mandated jacket, boot up my Energy Star computer, and visit 'Where You Live', to find out what an EPA paranoid from Chicago, Illinois, is supposed to do with a burned out CFL.
Illinois Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) maintains a schedule of collection events around the State of Illinois. Collection events for the new year will begin in the Spring of 2008. Please check the web site in late March 2008 for the Spring schedule.
IEPA also provides a list of long-term facilities that are available for disposal of household hazardous waste (locations vary). Call the listed numbers to determine availability and hours of operation.
IEPA Numbers? Where?
Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Recycling in the City of Chicago
1150 N. North Branch on Goose Island
For additional information contact City of Chicago at 312-744-7672
Oh, yeah, this is a real political winner. And that's just for unbroken CFL's. Here are the EPA's instructions for busted CFL clean up:
Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room
  • Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug
  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials
  • If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.
Disposal of Clean-up Materials
  • Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
  • Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.
Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming
  • The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
  • Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.
So, it's ten below zero in Chicago - thirty below with the wind chill factor. Your heat has been off and the windows open for the required fifteen minutes, second time this week. Your kids are freezing and griping, but you explain that some guys in Washington think this is a good idea, so they made it a law. That people all over the city - maybe thousands - have broken a light bulb and are dutifully freezing - following EPA rules, and the law, just like you. (You privately wonder how the hell this is saving energy.) We have to do this, you explain, because the light bulbs have bad stuff inside. They ask, "Why can they make us do that? Why isn't it warmer outside, with so many people letting the heat out? Don't those guys know it gets cold here?" "No." you say, "They don't. But I promise - I'll vote for the first guy who does."

Yup. As it was in the day the constitution was written, from such nightmares, sudden constitutional awareness might indeed be born. And that, at least, is good news.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

Pat said...

Thank you!

Maggie M. Thornton said...

It really frosts me that MY Congress can even consider banning a light bulb, especially with all we know about the problems of there chosen substitute.

Really, I was enraged the day I heard about it, and remember, they did it all over Christmas break...or Winter Holdiay.

Most of them are low-lifes, on the take.

Great post.

Maggie's Notebook

Maggie M. Thornton said...

Oops, excuse my little "there" there.

Maggie's Notebook

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