Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who failed in his bid to take the chairmanship of the House energy committee from Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), has begun the new congress with a new assault on his fellow Republican. In the first day of the 112th Congress, Barton led a pack of 13 anti-innovation Republicans with the introduction of legislation (H.R. 91) to strike down Upton’s 2007 lighting efficiency standard, painted by conservative activists as a “light bulb ban.” In a statement, Barton accused Upton of legislating an assault on “personal freedom” and “manipulating the free market”:
This is about more than just energy consumption, it is about personal freedom. Voters sent us a message in November that it is time for politicians and activists in Washington to stop interfering in their lives and manipulating the free market. The light bulb ban is the perfect symbol of that frustration. People don’t want congress dictating what light fixtures they can use.
“From the health insurance you’re allowed to have, to the car you can drive, to the light bulbs you can buy,” the polluter-funded Barton concluded, “Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to you and your family.”
Barton’s attack on the tyranny of energy-efficient light bulbs is consponsored by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Michael Burgess (TX), Rob Bishop (UT), Tom McClintock (CA), Howard Coble (NC), Ron Paul (TX), Todd Akin (MO), Ann-Marie Buerkle (NY), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Steve Scalise, Paul Broun (GA), Dan Burton (IN), and Cliff Stearns (FL). Of these 14 representatives, only Rep. Coble admits that global warming pollution is a real threat.
Upton has already reneged his position on light-bulb efficiency, which was supported by former speaker Rep. Denny Hastert (R-IL), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), and the light bulb industry itself. In December, Upton told Politico “he’s not afraid to go back after an issue he once supported but that has come under withering assault on the conservative airwaves, including on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s talk shows.”
There was, in fact, no bill to ban incandescent light bulbs. Because of the advanced light-bulb standards Upton helped pass in 2007, “the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation,” the New York Times reported last year. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”