God bless Texas

June 21, 2011

…for telling the federal government to take their incandescent light-bulb ban and shove it:

Texas could soon be in a position to turn the lights off on a federal plan to phase out certain light bulbs.

State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.

The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas – and sold in that state – avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year.

“Let there be light,” state Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, wrote on Facebook after the bill passed. “It will allow the continued manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in Texas, even after the federal ban goes into effect. … It’s a good day for Texas.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group, is calling on Perry to veto the bill.

I suspect Perry will sign the bill, since it would be popular given the increasingly “small l” libertarian mood of the country these days, and those folks would be Perry’s core audience in a presidential run. The article goes on to quote an NRDC spokesman arguing that the bill cannot be implemented in a practical manner (What? They can’t build a light bulb plant in Texas?) and that it wouldn’t be in the “best interests” of Texans.

How… patronizing and condescending. We can’t let people decide for themselves what kind of lighting is best, after all. That’s better left to bureaucrats and panels of experts. That’s the “progressive way.”

To which I reply,  “go Texas!” 

Anyway, this law poses interesting constitutional issues, and I fully expect it to wind up in the courts. There’s the much-abused Commerce Clause, which has been stretched into near-meaninglessness to allow Washington to do whatever it wants. If the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 rests even in part on regulating interstate commerce (i.e., because the bulbs are manufactured in one state and shipped to another), then strict constructionists could argue that, since the economic activity (manufacturing and sale) takes place within one state, Congress has no power to regulate it. Under the 10th amendment, therefore, the power to do so is reserved to the states, and Washington can take a hike.

Given the legal history of Commerce Clause interpretation, and especially with horrible precedents such as Wickard v Filburn, I doubt this argument would win, but it sure would be interesting to watch. I will note, however, that a refining of the Commerce Clause to clearly prohibit Congress from regulating intra-state activity is one of the amendments in Professor Randy Barnett’s proposed Bill of Federalism.

Meanwhile, I may be looking at a quick trip to Texas to pick up a case of 100-watts.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: In which I contemplate becoming a criminal

February 5, 2011

Sadness. My last 100-watt incandescent light bulb burned out, but I can’t buy another to replace it. Nanny Sacramento has decreed that I may buy no more, in order to save save us from the overuse of energy, a problem government and the environmentalist movement created by doing all they could to stymie new power plants in this state.

But, wait! I can use the Nanny-approved compact fluorescent light! Nick Gillespie tells us why we should be grateful:

Hmmm… I guess they aren’t as wonderful as Nanny told us. 

It’s nice to know, with the state in an economic depression and fiscal collapse looming on the horizon, that our masters, the Mandarins of the Green Dome, still think it’s important to regulate the most minor facets of our daily lives. And just to show what good little Green Statists they are, they had to impose our ban a year ahead of similar federal law.

I’m sure they were hoping for a cookie and a pat on the head from Pelosi and Waxman.

Of course, there could be profit for me in all this: smuggling illegal incandescent bulbs from overseas, cleverly hiding them in the trunk under innocuous bags of cocaine and harmless-looking radical imams. Like a modern Prometheus, I’ll bring cheap light to the people of California! Call me “the Light Bulb Bandit!” No one will suspect me of being a criminal…

Wait. “Criminal?” Make that “freedom fighter!”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I’d like a 100-watt heat ball, please

January 4, 2011

Many of you know that the California legislature, in a valiant effort to save us from both a problem that does not exist* and a problem they helped create†, banned the evil 100-watt incandescent light bulb as of January 1st, 2011.  Those of us who’d rather not light our homes with mercury-filled, hard-to-dispose-of CFLs were beginning to fear we’d have to smuggle contraband light bulbs in from Mexico.

But, fear not, for human ingenuity and the desire to thumb one’s nose at the nanny state know no bounds! In Germany, an ingenious man has found an invention to circumvent the EU’s earlier ban on incandescents: the heat ball!

You gotta hand it to German businessman Siegfried Rotthaeuser, who came up with a brilliant run around the European Union ban on conventional incandescent light bulbs- he rebranded them as “Heat Balls” and is importing them for sale as a “small heating device”.

Rotthaeuser’s website is in German but Google does a passable job of translation. First, he’s very clear that the Heat Ball isn’t for lighting, stating (in German, the following is translated) “A HEAT BALL ® is not a lamp, but it fits in the same version!”

Further down: “The use of Heat Balls avoids the lack of heat. The intended use of heat Balls is the heating. “

The funny thing about this is that incandescent bulbs are fairly efficient when they are used as heaters, throwing off around 95% of the energy they draw as heat.

The article clucks its tongue in mild disapproval, but I like Herr Rotthaeuser’s style. Take that, Eurocrats!

Meanwhile, I need to look into getting the Heat Ball(tm) concession for California.

*Global warming, that is.

†Power shortages caused by doing everything humanly possible to block the construction of new power plants in this state.

via Moe Lane