You know I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, a buzzkill doomsayer like those short-seller arseholes. However, I do feel responsible for reporting on the news as is, without filtering it through rose-coloured glasses.
So it comes with a bit of trepidation and sadness that I have to relay this bit of information:
China on Friday unveiled its three-step plan for phasing out energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs in an attempt to promote energy conservation and emissions reduction.
Imports and sales of 100-watt-and-higher incandescent light bulbs will be banned as of Oct 1, 2012, Xie Ji, deputy director of the environmental protection department with the National Development and Reform Commission said at a conference.
This will be followed by a ban on imports and sales of 60-watt-and-above incandescent light bulbs starting October 1, 2014, he said.
You gotta admit, her bulbs are rather nice.
I know, I know. It’s a scary situation. For those of you who have been living under a rock for most of this year, you may not be familiar with this issue or why this has the potential of throwing an explosive, radioactive wrench into the bilateral diplomatic works. Allow me to explain.
The resulting political shitstorm has been dramatic:
The law, which sets standards to make the bulbs more efficient and reduce electricity use, has been derided by Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., as Exhibit A of the liberal assault on the free enterprise system.
This is a serious group that includes a Republican presidential hopeful. And they aren’t alone. Texas Governor Rick Perry, also running for president, signed a bill into law that purports to nullify the U.S. federal legislation. Sure, it’s unconstitutional, but the status quo was unacceptable to Texans. After all, nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus used a CFL bulb.
And that wasn’t the end of the story. Rep. Barton (R-Texaco) earlier this year also fought back:
In 2011 Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and 14 other Republicans joined to introduce the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or BULB Act (H.R. 91), which would have repealed Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Barton was opposed to regulation, while Rep. Michael Burgess pointed to jobs purportedly lost to China and voiced a fear of mercury problems resulting from CFL use. On July 12, 2011, H.R. 2417 failed to pass by the required two-thirds majority in the U.S. House.
But here’s the kicker. The House vote was 233 – 193 (voting “Yea” was another GOP presidential candidate, Ron Paul). In other words, although it failed to get a 2/3 majority, it was still passed with a majority of the House, meaning that most House members think Americans have a God-given right to buy incandescent light bulbs.
The media was also on their side. Well, at least Fox News and some blogs:
Let’s talk a little bit about something known as the Better Use Of Light Bulbs Act, B-U-L-B Act, later on today in the House of Representatives they’re going to bring this up. And what it is, is it’s — they’re going to try to repeal — you know, Congress passed that kooky law that said incandescent bulbs, like this, got to go away; got to use those pigtail things that are made in China that have mercury in them, instead of the bulbs made by American workers. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/11/11] (Media Matters)
So where does that leave the U.S.-China relationship? Well, according to www.fakechinahearsayrumor.com, after hearing about today’s NDRC announcement, Rep. Joe Barton, overheard in the men’s room at a D.C. Taco Bell, threatened retaliation:
Not only don’t those Godless Commies recognise Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour , but now they’re going after incandescent bulbs? I bet they’ll think twice about that when Congress blocks all Chinese student visas. While I’m at it, maybe I’ll cut off all corn and wheat exports and order the FBI to investigate Panda Express. Maybe I’ll even get the IRS to go after that artist guy for his U.S.-based income. Wait, I think somebody beat me to that one.
Look, next year is an election year. Obama is circling the political drain and the Republicans already control the House. It’s very possible that a pro-choice candidate (i.e., choice of incandescent or CFL) will get in with a Congress predisposed to do the bidding of the bulb lobby.
Once they get their own house in order, revising U.S. law, it stands to reason that China trade sanctions will follow, along with a possible naval blockade of ports used to export CFLs and/or drone strikes against CFL factories.
I don’t know about you, but I’m already winding up my business and looking to settle down in another hemisphere.
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