Today Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Centre, waded into the Great Light Bulb Debate with an amendment that would have blocked Congress from purchasing those squiggly, energy efficient CFL bulbs.
A bit of background: Recent energy efficiency standards have pushed Thomas Edison's halogen bulb by the wayside, but House Republicans have been waging a battle to bring it back. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, has weighed in on the side of CFL bulbs, but the House voted to deny funding to enforcement of the efficiency standards.
Still, the battle of the bulb is far from over, and Thompson decided to use the Legislative Branch approptiations bill on the House floor today to make a point. He offered an amendment that would ban legislative funds from being used to acquire the compact fluorescent bulbs that have become more popular of late.
Thompson cited fears of mercury from broken CFL bulbs, noting that the EPA advises people to leave the room and open a window if a bulb breaks. Also, he said, banning CFL bulbs from the Capitol would force Congress to buy American products: "Since Congress forced the use of foreign made CFLs four years ago, American lighting manufacturers have made substantial investments in technology and have retooled their factories to make new LED and incandescent bulbs which meet the energy efficiency standards Congress mandated."
One of the facilities that makes incandescent bulbs just happens to be in St. Mary's, Elk County, in Thompson's district.
But the House shot down Thompson's proposal, 130-283, with Republicans about split in half and nearly all Democrats voting no.
The Natural Resources Defense Council was pleased, noting that Congress is free to purchase any bulbs it likes -- including Sylvanias from Thompson territory.
"This vote was a victory for common sense," NRDC spokesman Bob Keefe wrote in an email. "There's no reason to stop using CFLs, which save money and are totally safe. But the good thing about new lighting standards is that they don't ban any particular type of bulb - you can use CFLs, new more efficient incandescent bulbs like the ones made in Rep. Thompson's district, LED bulbs or others."