Americans for Limited Government (ALG) recently urged passage of a bill by South Carolina State Representatives Bill Sandifer and Dwight Loftis that would allow the manufacture and purchase of incandescent lamps in South Carolina. The lamps are subject to a federal ban that will take effect January 1, 2012.
"State Representatives Sandifer and Loftis are taking the lead in protecting the rights of South Carolina consumers, who don't want the federal government telling them which light bulbs they must use," says ALG President Bill Wilson.
"The basic concept of the bill is to allow the citizens of South Carolina to be able to continue to buy incandescent light bulbs," says Representative Sandifer, chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. "It is my strong belief that the feds have overstepped the Tenth Amendment and now are venturing into telling us what kinds of lighting we can have in our homes."
But how can the federal government ban light bulbs? "They are trying to use again as they have so often done, the Commerce Clause. But I have a real problem with Big Brother intruding in how I live in my home," continues Sandifer, who also says that there would be more hearings at the subcommittee level before it comes up for a final vote in his committee. He is hopeful for full House approval for the bill.
Explaining what the bill does, Representative Loftis said "it provides for the option of an entity manufacturing these bulbs in South Carolina to be sold in South Carolina."
Wilson explains, "Since the bulbs would be made entirely in South Carolina and sold in South Carolina, the federal government has no power to regulate it under the Interstate Commerce Clause."
Loftis blasts the federal ban on incandescent light bulbs. "On the one hand, the feds say we need to do something about cleaning up the environment, and on the other hand, they impose requirements that we use this particular light bulb that has hazards with the disposal of it," he explains. The new fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which raises concerns about the costs of proper disposal and mercury seepage into the environment.
"All in all, it's just something that the feds have no business in regulating," Loftis says, continuing on that the supposed cost savings from using the bulbs simply will not be there for consumers. Loftis says that passage of the bill may depend on how environmental groups respond to it. "What side are they going to take?" Loftis asks. "Are they going to take the side of clean disposal? Or are they going to take the side of potentially putting some of the hazardous materials in the landfill or back out into the environment?"
Wilson says the issue came down to protecting the rights of consumers to be free to make their own choices. "The government is attempting to micromanage our decisions as consumers," he says. "The federal government has no power to tell South Carolinians, or any citizen, what types of lighting they are allowed to use. Representatives Sandifer and Loftis deserve the support of their constituents to help overturn this tyrannical dictate by the federal government to use unsafe, mercury-laced bulbs."
Wilson concludes, "Thomas Edison would be turning over in his grave if he knew that his invention, one of the greatest in human history, was being banned."
The Energy Independence and Security Act, which effectively bans incandescent light bulbs was enacted in 2007.