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DECEMBER 20, 2007    

New energy standards: maybe good, maybe not

I was all set to write a grudging congratulations to the U.S. Congress for coming up with energy legislation that made sense. The radio report I heard described new requirements for light bulbs to be 75% more efficient by 2012, or something along those lines. This makes sense—a regulation based on a goal (energy efficiency) rather than a specific technology. Maybe too much sense for the government to do?

Standard incandescent style light bulbI've been trying to find the specific language in the bill to clarify this, but Google hasn't helped me much. There are many references to the idea but not the actual regulatory language. So as of this minute I'm not sure what the energy bill actually says.

In my view it's stupid to say "you can't use incandescent bulbs. You must use compact fluorescents." Or LEDs. Or whatever. Just set clear energy-conservation goals and let the best technology win. GE says they are developing an incandescent bulb that will be as efficient as a CFL and cheaper. If they can do it, why not?

Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have enough information to clarify this. In the meantime, it's interesting to note that when I searched for "u.s. energy legislation lighting" at the top of the second page of results was a link to what U.S. Catholics have to say about it. The Catholic reaction isn't all that positive. Are they more conservative than other U.S. religions? Do they use the Internet more? Do they have a collective chip on their shoulder regarding energy legislation?

More about CFLs and energy conservation here, here, and here.

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