The Importance of a Light Bulb

congressman-ted-poeAnother bit of levity here as that is needed every now and then lest we all go insane debating government. A friend of mine shared this with me the other night. The video is hysterical and there is a link to it at the bottom for those that want to watch it as opposed to reading the transcript here. It seems that Representative Ted Poe from Texas has an issue with government putting their hands into everything, especially the federally mandated dependence on foreign lighting. As I have said, he is becoming my favorite Congressman for a reason. It is well worth watching just for his rant. But if you choose to watch, watch the whole 5 minutes.

So here is the only transcript that I could find of Representative Poe and his amazing dissertation on the demise of the incandescent lightbulb:

Madam Speaker, Congress passed an energy bill which should have been called the Anti-American non Energy Bill, because it punishes Americans for using energy, rather than finding new sources of affordable energy. But the bill does one thing, Madam Speaker, it controls the type of light bulbs that all Americans must use throughout our fruited plains.

Congress’s energy bill bans incandescent light bulbs by 2014, and requires Americans to buy compact fluorescent bulbs. Those are called CFLs. Now we can say goodbye to Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb and his invention.

cfl-bulbMadam Speaker, I have a Constitution here and, like most Members of Congress, I carry it with me. I’ve read it through and through, but I don’t see anywhere in the U.S. Constitution that it gives the government the power to control the type of light bulbs used in Dime Box, Texas or any other place in the United States. Besides the lack of constitutional authority, let me discuss these light bulbs further.

Nothing in Congress seems to be easy, and that phrase is certainly true with these CFL light bulbs. These light bulbs contain mercury, so they have to be disposed of in a certain way. According to EPA rules, you’re supposed to take them to a local recycling center. Thanks to Congress, nothing is easy.

If you throw them out at home, you’re supposed to seal the bulb in two plastic bags and place them in the outside trash; otherwise, the bulb may break and pollute the landfill, of all things.

CFLs are made of glass, so they’re fragile. If one breaks it or drops it, you have to follow simple rules, thanks to Congress. And according to the EPA, here’s what do you if you break one of these light bulbs, and I quote. “Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the area.” We must evacuate the room, Madam Speaker.

I continue. “Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid.” Obviously, that’s readily available.

I continue. “Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small grass fragments and powder.” Of course we do have lots of duct tape in Texas, so that’s no problem. But we’re not through yet.

I continue to quote. “Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag. Do not use a vacuum or a broom.”

And, Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to file this 3-page, single space requirements the EPA has made all Americans follow on disposing of one of these broken light bulbs.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Texas?

There was no objection.

Mr. POE. If you break a light bulb in a high rise where the windows don’t open, will the EPA light bulb police haul us off to jail because of improper disposal procedures?

If I dropped this light bulb, we would have to evacuate the House of Representatives, according to the EPA light bulb law. Have we gone a bit too far with this nonsense?

Thanks to Congress, we’re making what is simple very difficult. And besides, these light bulbs, are expensive, and using them may fade photographs on the wall.

Now, Madam Speaker, I’m going to carefully remove one of these light bulbs from a box that contains all these warnings on the outside. And this is one of those CFL light bulbs that Congress is requiring all Americans to use by 2014.

There’s more to the requirements of using these. It says here, and I quote, “these light bulbs may cause interference to radios, televisions, wireless telephones and remote controls.” Now we’re in trouble for Monday night football because we’re going to have to turn out the lights so there’s no interference with our TV.

We can also thank Congress for giving more money to China. This light bulb, it says right here, with all the warnings on it, is made in China. And Madam Speaker, they are only made in China. They’re not made in the United States. We import every one of these things.

You know, over the past year we’ve seen Chinese pet food kill our dogs and cats; Chinese lead paint is poisoning our children, and now Chinese light bulbs that contain mercury can be harmful to our health. Doesn’t this bother anybody?

Meanwhile, gasoline nears $4 a gallon, and Congress still has no energy plan except turn on these light bulbs. 

Oh, I yearn for the day when America took care of Americans by developing our own abundant natural resources like coal and natural gas and crude oil to provide affordable energy to America. But those days have gone the way of Edison’s incandescent light bulb. We might as well turn out the lights, the party’s over.

And that’s just the way it is.

Fun huh? He makes a great point at the effort Congress goes to in order to tell us what to do. Perhaps more common sense like this needs to enter the House Chamber. But if it does I imagine Nancy’s head will explode. The link to the video is here:



  1. It would have been delightful to watch Mr. Poe accidentally drop the CFL on the House floor! Except that the pricetag for hazmat procedures and evacuation would have been in the millions.

    We live in a 150-year old house. While we have upgraded many of the light fixtures, we left the ancient chandeliers. Aside from the fact that these CFL’s look ridiculous in the chandeliers, they do not fit in the sockets of many. Nor do they fit inside the glass globes of the ceiling fans, the porch lanterns, or the nightlights. The “old-fashioned” bulbs come in many shapes and sizes, work in various types of lighting…and some are even made in America. I put one of the CFLs in my bedside lamp, and noticed it glowing green for several moments after I turned out the light.

    Several years ago parents were asked to return their mercury thermometres to pharmacies in order to receive a coupon for an alcohol-filled one…due to the hazards of mercury in landfills. Disregarding the fact that the light from a CFL is unpleasant to the eyes, why should I be convinced that it is better to “save” some energy at the expense of “poisioning” the environment?

    Why not just go back to candles?

  2. I have kerosene lanterns, and candles, and even an old clay oil-lamp. If I could just get a wood-burning computer…….

  3. Instead of getting rid of incandescent light bulbs by 2014, why don’t we make a concerted effort to get rid of Madame Speaker by 2014? Seems much easier, more productive, and would make for a better America.

    • Amen to that MadMom. As a matter of fact, we should be looking to replace MOST of Congress.


  4. We need to start advancing LED technology as well. They use next to no enerrgy and don’t make your walls turn a different shade of green. And like usweapon and mad mom said, lets pray for a replacement of congress by 2014.

  5. Thought the very same thing why did’nt he drop the bulb by mistake?

  6. Karen Ulrich says:

    My 8th grader recently had to do a comparison project on incandescents and CFL’s. This was a brainwashing project if I ever saw one. I made sure that her comparison included the 4 hour hazardous material cleanup, the danger to children and pets if a CFL breaks, the content of mercury and the filling of our landfills with toxic material. Right back at ya teacher!

  7. Paul -Indiana says:

    As an Electrical Engineer I get a lot of mailings about new products. I used to worry about CFLs, but it looks like LED lamps will dominate. They also can be mixed to produce a pleasant hue rather than the awful white of a CFL.

  8. rebecca says:

    these light bulbs trigger migraines. If they are the only option, i will be forced to use candles after dark and avoid all public places with non-natural light. the alternative will be to live in a state of permanent disability, vomiting, and severe pain. Since 15 minutes under these bulbs can trigger a 3-day headache, i don’t know what i will do when there are no options out there. does anyone know if there is a black market for light bulbs?

  9. Beverly A. Williams says:

    This light bulb business has been driving me crazy. I purchase light bulbs made in the U.S.A. every time I’m in a store where I find them. I will continue to try and shop AMERICAN MADE!!! The American government is stupid, stupid, stupid. Look what they’ve done to jobs and companies that used to employ the American people!!!

  10. Is there anyway to fight this? I cannot find bulbs made in USA. Why do we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot? We need manufacturing jobs and no government telling us what we must buy–especially things that are dangerous to health and environment. And the governmant regs are pricing USA right out of competition with the rest of the world. Nuts!!!!


  1. […] The Importance of a Light Bulb […]

%d bloggers like this: