Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And What is it About Facts that the EPA doesn't understand?

Why should everyone in America suffer for what one misguided federal agency wants to do to American citizens, especially those in minority groups, that it supposedly is "helping?" Will a bankrupt economy caused by EPA regulations help anyone?

Clearing the air

Trying to correct all the disinformation about “mercury and air toxics” is a full-time job

Paul Driessen

Ever since public, congressional and union anger and anxiety persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency to delay action on its economy-strangling carbon dioxide rules, EPA has been on a take-no-prisoners crusade to impose other job-killing rules for electricity-generating plants.

As President Obama said when America rejected cap-tax-and-trade, “there’s more than one way to skin the cat.” If Congress won't cooperate, his EPA will lead the charge. Energy prices will “skyrocket.” Companies that want to build coal-fired power plants will “go bankrupt.” His administration will “fundamentally transform” our nation’s energy, economic, industrial and social structure.

EPA’s proposed “mercury and air toxics” rules for power plants are built on the false premise that we are still breathing the smog, soot and poisons that shrouded London, England, and Gary, Indiana, sixty years ago. In reality, US air quality improved steadily after the 1970 Clean Air Act was enacted.

Moreover, since 1990, even as US coal use more than doubled, coal-fired power plant emissions declined even further: 58% for mercury, 67% for nitrogen oxides, 70% for particulates, 85% for sulfur dioxide – and just as significantly for most of the other 80 pollutants that EPA intends to cover with its 946-pages of draconian proposed regulations.

It’s time to clear the political air – and scrub out some of the toxic disinformation that EPA and its allies have been emitting for months, under a multi-million-dollar “public education” campaign that EPA has orchestrated and funded, to frighten people into supporting its new rules. PR firms, religious and civil rights groups, environmental activists and college students are eagerly propagating the myths.

EPA’s “most wanted” outlaw is mercury. But for Americans this villain is as real as Freddy or Norman Bates. To turn power plant mercury emissions into a mass killer, EPA cherry-picked studies and data, and ignored any that didn’t fit its “slasher” film script. As my colleague Dr. Willie Soon and I pointed out in our Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily articles, US power plants account for just 0.5% of mercury emitted into North American’s air; the other 99.5% comes from natural and foreign sources.

Critics assailed our analysis, but the studies support us, not EPA – as is abundantly clear in Dr. Soon’s 85-page report, available at www.AffordablePowerAlliance.org. The report and studies it cites fully support our conclusion that America’s fish are safe to eat (in part because they contain selenium and are thus low in biologically available methylmercury, mercury’s more toxic cousin), and blood mercury levels for American women and children are already below FDA’s and other agencies’ safe levels.

Not only are EPA’s mercury claims fraudulent. They are scaring people away from eating fish, which are rich in essential fatty acids. In other words, EPA is actively harming people’s nutrition and health.

One of the more bizarre criticisms of our analysis contends that mercury released in forest fires “originates from coal-burning power plants,” which supposedly shower the toxin onto trees, which release it back into the atmosphere during arboreal conflagrations. In fact, mercury is as abundant in the earth’s crust as silver and selenium. It is absorbed by trees through their roots – and their leaves, which absorb those 0.5% (power plant) and 99.5% (other) atmospheric mercury components through their stomata.

Another bizarre criticism is that mercury isn’t the issue. The real problem is ultra-fine (2.5 micron) soot particles. So now the “power plant mercury is poisoning babies and children” campaign was just a sideshow! Talk about changing the subject. Now, suddenly, the alleged health benefits and lives saved would come from controlling soot particles. That claim is as bogus as the anti-mercury scare stories.

Even EPA and NOAA data demonstrate that America’s air already meets EPA’s national standard, which is equivalent to disseminating an ounce of soot (about one and a quarter super-pulverized charcoal briquettes) across a volume of air one-half mile long, one-half mile wide and one story high. That’s less than you’re likely to get from sitting in front of a campfire, fireplace or wood-burning stove, inhaling airborne particulates, hydrocarbon gases and heavy metals. (Search the internet for Danish, EPA and Forest Service studies and advisories on these popular “organic” heating and cooking methods.)

Simply put, EPA’s proposed rules will impose huge costs – for few health or environmental benefits, beyond what we are already realizing through steadily declining emissions under existing regulations.

Besides bringing mythical health benefits, EPA claims its lower national emission standards will simply put all states and utility companies “on the same level playing field.” This pious rhetoric may be fine for states that get little electricity from coal. However, for states (especially manufacturing states) that burn coal to generate 48-98% of their electricity, the new rules will be job, economy and revenue killers.

Energy analyst Roger Bezdek estimates that utilities will have to spend over $130 billion to retrofit older plants, under the measly three-year (2014) deadline that EPA is giving them, under a sweetheart court deal the agency brokered with radical environmental groups. On top of that, utilities will have to spend another $30 billion a year for operations, maintenance and extra fuel for the energy-intensive scrubbers and other equipment they will be forced to install.

Many companies simply cannot justify those huge costs for older power plants. Thus Dominion Power, American Electric Power and other utilities have announced that they will simply close dozens of generating units, representing tens of thousands of megawatts – enough to electrify tens of millions of homes and businesses. Illinois alone will lose nearly 3,500 MW of reliable, affordable, baseload electricity – with little but promises of intermittent pixie-dust wind turbine electricity to replace it.

Electricity costs are set to skyrocket, just as the President promised. Consumers can expect to pay at least 20% more in many states by 2014 or shortly thereafter. According to the Chicago Tribune, hard-pressed Illinois families and businesses will shell out 40-60% more! How’s that for an incentive to ramp up production and hire more workers? How’s that “hope and change” working out for families that had planned to fix the car, save for college and retirement, take a vacation, get that long-postponed surgery?

For a mid-sized hospital or factory that currently pays $500,000 annually for electricity (including peak-demand charges), those rate hikes could add $300,000 a year to its electricity bill. That’s equivalent to ten full-time entry-level employees … that now won't get hired, or will get laid off.

And it’s not just private businesses that will get hammered. As the Chi Trib notes, if the Chicago public school system wants to keep the lights on and computers running for two semesters, by 2014 it will get hit for an extra $2.7 million it doesn’t have, to pay for skyrocketing electricity costs.

Carry those costs through much of the US economy – especially the 26 states that get 48-98% of their electricity from coal-fired power plants – and we are talking about truly “fundamental transformations.” Millions will be laid off, millions more won't be hired, millions of jobs will be shipped overseas – and millions will endure brownouts, blackouts and increasing social unrest.

EPA generally refuses to consider the economic effects of its regulations, except to insist that even its most oppressive rules will generate benefits “far in excess” of any expected costs. Perhaps it will at least consider the obvious, unavoidable and monumental adverse physical and mental health impacts of its rate hikes and layoffs – on nutrition, healthcare, depression, family violence and civil rights progress.

The Environmental Protection Agency has always had a horse-blinder attitude about environmental policy. Under Administrator Lisa Jackson, it has become a truly rogue agency.

It’s time for Congress, state legislatures, attorneys-general, courts and We the People to bring some balance and common sense into the picture. Otherwise 9.1% unemployment – with Black and Hispanic unemployment even higher – will soon look like boom times.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

EPA continues to propose job-killing regulations

The current administration professes to care about minorities. After all, the president is at least partly a minority.

Why then does Obama continue to support policies and regulations that do nothing but beat down those he says he cares about?

Follow CARE-blog favorite Paul Driessen as he continues to expose the fallacies in Obama's policies.

And the beat-down goes on
Proposed EPA rules will do more harm than good for human health, especially for minorities
Paul Driessen
Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his policies would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket” and “bankrupt” any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant. This is one promise he and his ├╝ber-regulators are keeping.
President Obama energetically promotes wind and solar projects that require millions of acres of land and billions of dollars in subsidies, to generate expensive, intermittent electricity and create jobs that cost taxpayers upwards of $220,000 apiece – most of them in China.
His Interior Department is locking up more coal and petroleum prospects, via “wild lands” and other designations, and dragging its feet on issuing leases and drilling permits. Meanwhile, his Environmental Protection Agency is challenging shale gas drilling and fracking, and imposing draconian carbon dioxide emission rules, now that Congress and voters have rejected cap-tax-and-trade. That’s for starters.
The beat-down of hydrocarbon energy goes on. Oil, gas and coal provide 85% of the energy that keeps America humming, but the administration is doing all it can to take it out of our mix. American voters, consumers and workers may want more drilling, mining and use of hydrocarbons, to get the economy going again. But the administration has a different agenda.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has unveiled another 946 pages of regulations that she claims will protect public health. The regs cover 84 “dangerous pollutants” that are already being scrubbed out of power plant emission streams by a host of innovative technologies. In fact, coal-fired generators now emit a fraction of what they did just 40 years ago.
The most frequently cited of these pollutants is mercury. Higher doses cause well-known ill-health effects, from severe neurological damage to brain damage and death. However, it has been all but eliminated in herbicides, light switches, thermometers and other products.
Its presence in coal and power plant emissions is likewise minimal and declining. The last serious cases of human health impacts from mercury poisoning in the US occurred decades ago – and coal-fired power plants remain the largest source of US-based manmade mercury only because other human sources are essentially gone.
Nevertheless, EPA and its anti-energy, anti-job allies like Climate Progress and Greenpeace are using mercury to spearhead their latest campaign against a fuel that provides half of all US electricity, and up to 95% in many manufacturing states. Even worse, they claim minorities somehow are especially at risk from mercury and other power plant pollutants. They even went so far as to hold a people-of-color-only press conference, to stir up fears and persuade minority interest groups to support the new regulations.
A few elemental facts put the alleged “dangers” power plant mercury emissions in perspective – which EPA and its fellow campaigners steadfastly refuse to do. They also illustrate how EPA abuses science, statistics and tax-funded “education” campaigns to promote needless public anxiety and expand its control over our lives, jobs and consumer choices, on a host of pollutants that pose little actual risk.
First and foremost, we are talking about a mere 41 tons of mercury per year. If that sounds like a lot, consider the following.
The United Nations Environment Program estimates that the cremation of human remains results in 26 tons of atmospheric mercury per year – from mercury-silver amalgams in teeth fillings.
China’s coal-fired power plants emit six times more mercury than their US counterparts, and power plants worldwide emit nearly twelve times as much, according to UN and other data. Since the atmosphere, jet streams and weather systems are global phenomena, all this mercury is mixed with US emissions,
But even these manmade sources are dwarfed by natural sources.
According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, forest fires in the Lower 48 States and Alaska annually put over 44 tons of mercury into the air. Root systems carry naturally occurring mercury from soils into their leaves and wood; forest fires release the mercury into the atmosphere and also “roast” it out of burned soils. (Maybe it’s time to ban forest fires – and wood-burning stoves.)
Recent studies by two Cambridge University scientists calculate that man and Mother Nature discharge up to 9,100 tons of mercury into the global atmospheric every year. Most comes from volcanoes, but subsea vents (the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and elsewhere), geysers and forest fires also play major roles.
In other words, US power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in the air that we Americans breathe. Even eliminating every ounce of this mercury will do nothing about the other 99.5% of that pollutant in America’s atmosphere.
And yet EPA & Company demand that we do just that – at a cost of billions of dollars per year, to “protect” us from infinitesimal or imaginary risks.
Perhaps our helpful bureaucrats and activists could put a Plexiglass bubble over the entire United States, to keep those evil natural and Chinese gases out; plug Old Faithful and Kilauea; keep people (especially minorities) away from Yellowstone National Park; and ban curly mercury-enhanced CFL bulbs.
Add up everything EPA is doing to tax, obstruct and penalize coal use, and we are looking at huge increases in electricity prices. These skyrocketing prices will hammer family budgets, especially in minority communities, impairing nutrition and health, making it harder for many families to heat, cool and pay for their homes, and increasing illness and death.
Soaring energy prices will also force numerous companies to outsource manufacturing operations and jobs. Electricity is a major cost for factories, offices, stores, hospitals and schools. Every price hike hits them with another $10,000 to $1,000,000 or more in new annual expenses that they must pass on to consumers – or address by laying off more employees, whose families then suffer even more.
These hard realities must be viewed against 8.9% national, 11.6% Hispanic and 15.3% black joblessness. (These figures do not include people who have given up on finding a job, or have been forced to take part-time or temporary work.) EPA’s unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are being completely disingenuous when they say their latest ten-pound stack of rules will bring one milligram of net benefit to human health and welfare, especially for minorities.
EPA’s special “stakeholder briefing” on March 16 certainly conveys the correct image. Environmental activist groups are holding the stake that this rogue agency intends to pound through the heart of America’s economic recovery and civil rights progress.
EPA needs to start basing its policies and rules on science, reality, common sense, and comprehensive public health considerations. Congress needs to reassert its authority over EPA.
Both need to focus on responsible, science-based air and water quality standards that address real health and economic needs – and recognize that “human health and welfare” means more than eliminating every vestige of US manmade emissions, especially when we can do absolutely nothing about the vast majority of natural and manmade global emissions.
America – and our economic and civil rights progress – is waiting.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is Fracking a "Bad" Word or Can It Provide Economic Boons?

Environmentalists will tell you that hydrofracturing may contaminate aquifers. Only sloppy practices will do so.

Otherwise, hydrofracturing is a long-used technique to blast natural gas from tight shale formations. Might the economic benefits of the process and the retrieved product far outweigh the possible, but not probable, accidental contamination?

The following article by CARE-favorite Diana Furchtgott-Roth reports on a study of the benefits and possible problems with hydrofracturing.

Hydrofracturing Can Fix State Budgets
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
June 9, 2011.

WASHINGTON—To find a remedy for New York State's persistent fiscal problems, New Yorkers need only look down-far down.

Miles below the Empire State's mosaic of cities, suburbs, villages, lakes, farms, and highways lie vast reserves of natural gas, currently off-limits to producers. IF Albany were to permit development of these clean energy resources, it would spawn new jobs, a surge of economic activity—and more tax revenues.

How much more? A new study released Tuesday by the Manhattan Institute, a think tank where I am an adjunct fellow, estimates that in 2015 New York State could enjoy $1.7 billion in additional economic activity, 16,000 more jobs and $214 million in extra tax revenue if its natural gas reserves were developed.

Over the period 2011 to 2020, New York State could gain $11.4 billion in economic output, 90,000 to 108,000 new jobs, and $1.4 billion in tax revenues.

The study was authored by Professors Timothy Considine of the University of Wyoming and Robert Watson of Pennsylvania State University, and Nicholas Considine of Natural Resources Economics, a consulting firm. Nicholas Considine is the son of Professor Considine.

Neighboring Pennsylvania produces over 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year. It has 296 wells in the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that stretches into New York and West Virginia. Those wells have given the Keystone State an added $1.7 billion in economic activity a year and 18,000 jobs.

Whereas Pennsylvania , Texas, Arkansas, among others, are tapping into their natural gas reserves using a new method called hydraulic fracturing, New York has effectively banned the process, at least for the present, on the grounds that it might cause environmental damage, especially contamination of underground water.

In 2010, then-Governor David Paterson issued Executive Order 41, which bans new drilling permits until the New York Department of Environmental Conservation issues a new Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. It was due to be published this month, but has been delayed until early September, according to a spokesman for the Department, to allow incorporation of the many comments received.

What is hydraulic fracturing, and why is it so controversial? Also known as hydrofracturing, or fracking, it is a method of extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations and packed sand. Wells are drilled 4,000 to 5,000 feet below the surface, and then sometimes curve to drill horizontally. Fluids are then pushed into the well to separate the gas from the shale and sand and so make it extractable.

Due to the irregular distribution of natural gas underground (small pockets are spread unevenly within the tight rock, like bubble wrap) the only way to remove the gas from the shale is through hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling, say industry experts.

Hydrofracturing techniques have been known since the 1940s, but have recently become more widespread, and therefore controversial, as the long, upward trend of oil prices has made shale formations of natural gas look more profitable.

Hydraulic fracturing has made trillions of cubic feet potentially available, and has driven the price of natural gas down to its current level of $4.69 per million Btu from $7 or $8 per million Btu between 2004 and 2009. As a result of all this, estimates of recoverable U.S. natural gas have climbed dramatically, from 1,100 trillion cubic feet in 1990 to 2,587 trillion cubic feet today.

Natural gas is a cleaner burning fossil fuel with a quarter of the carbon emissions of coal. Emissions from natural gas burning automobiles are 25 percent cleaner than from gasoline or diesel engines. So, one would think that natural gas would be popular with environmentalists.

But environmentalists do not like hydrofracturing, because they are concerned about water contamination. Because wells pass through clean water aquifers, many enviros fear that the chemicals used in a hydrofracturing job will be released into the earth and contaminate the aquifer.

Another concern is the disposal of water used in the drilling process. Typically 25 percent of the water is recycled back up to the surface. Many skeptics worry that the water brought to the surface is dumped directly into rivers and streams, that the lined pits used to hold recycled water contaminate the soil, or that accidents involving the trucks carrying the recycled water could cause irrevocable environmental damage.

Further, the 75 percent of hydrofracked water that remains underground worries people because of possible contamination of the aquifer.

Lastly, water usage itself is a point of contention. The critics point out that hydrofracturing jobs deplete large amounts of water, with large jobs using four to five million gallons.

Some of these worries, while conscientious, are misguided, the Manhattan Institute study explains.

Natural gas deposits, at 4,000 to 5,000 feet below ground, are well below the 500 to 700 feet depth of the water tables. Dense shale rock lies in between the two strata. The rare but well-published cases of water table contamination occurred due to poor casing jobs or improper drilling techniques and were immediately prosecuted by the governmental authorities.

Wastewater from the hydrofracturing process is trucked away or piped to Environmental Protection Agency-certified treatment facilities. Until then, companies store it in steel or earthen-lined pits. Steel pits provide more protection and New York could require steel pits to be used.

Some water is recycled and used again for other drilling operations. Flowback from hydrofracturing fluids has never contaminated an underground aquifer or above ground water source.

A large hydrofracturing project may require four to five million gallons of water. This seems large, but it is small in comparison to total household consumption. Pennsylvania residents use more than 300 billion gallons (62,800 gallons per household) a year. Tax revenues from natural gas exploration can be used to improve state parks and rivers, rendering the environment cleaner than it would have been otherwise.

Professor Considine and his team report that Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection data show that between 2008 and 2010, 7.9 percent of wells had serious violations of the stringent regulations placed upon them by the state. These violations occurred not because of the process of hydrofracturing itself, but rather because of improper drilling or poor casing jobs.

In other words, hydrofracturing itself is not the villain. Sloppy drilling and casing are problems—but they are neither inevitable nor pervasive.

Professor Considine calculates that the economic damage resulting from the environmental effects of a typical shale well came to $14,000, low compared with the benefits per well of $4 million. It is impossible to have costless manufacturing of any product or human activity, and the benefits far outweigh the costs.

New York had to close a budget deficit of $8.5 billion in fiscal year 2011, and it faces continued budget deficits in future years. For fiscal health, New York should copy Pennsylvania and develop its natural gas reserves.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


We in the United States think we have it bad with government regulations!

Heed the lesson in Great Britain where the government is mandating the upgrading of houses and businesses to "E" rating, whatever that entails, by 2016. If a homeowner cannot afford the upgrades, no problem, the government will do it for them and charge the home or business owner in installments in their energy bills for the foreseeable future.

We at CARE don't want to go that route.

The Britons are also uprising about wind farms on the hills of Wales.

Do we want all of our landscapes to be covered with wind farms, solar arrays, and other "green energy" eyesores or should we stick with tried-and-true gas-powered energy, using the natural gas that the United States is blessed with in plenitude.

Become active. Call your Congressmen and say you support expedited natural gas and oil drilling!


My colleague Bennie Peiser, of Britain’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, offers some of his latest man-made global warming news:

The Sunday Times noted on May 22 that the UK government has agreed to cut its greenhouse emissions 50 percent by 2027. As a result, “Tata Steel last week announced it was cutting 1,500 jobs at its Scunthorpe and Teeside plants. The company, which employs 21,000 in Britain, has held high-level talks with government in recent weeks over its energy plans. . . . Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe warned that he could be forced to shut the firm’s Runcorn chlorine plant, a big energy user . . . and employer of more than 1,000 people. According to Civitas [the think tank] . . . total energy bills . . . could rise by 141 percent by 2020.”

The Henley Standard said May 23 that houses and business premises as of 2016 must qualify for at least an “E” energy rating. At least 682,000 properties will need to be improved—and “this will radically increase rental costs as landlords withdraw their properties from the rental sector.”

Homeowners will also have to retrofit their houses with required energy-saving features such as double-glazed windows and more insulation, said The Guardian May 19. “The householder pays nothing up front, but the equipment and installation costs will be added in installments to the household’s energy bills for years.” At the moment, says the Guardian, householders will be charged market interest rates, which could mean 8 percent annually. Germany has attracted homeowner cooperation with subsidized loans as low as 2.65 percent—but the British government probably can’t afford to offer that.

The Sunday Telegraph of May 22 says the Welsh Assembly faces “the biggest consumer demonstration so far in Britain” if it goes forward with a plan for 800 giant new wind turbines on mid-Wales hills. In the Welsh Parliament, Glyn Davies said “the two-megawatt turbines would cost at least [$2.7 billion, plus another $500 million] for the infrastructure.” In contrast, a far bigger gas-fired power plant near Plymouth will produce power without subsidy at one fifteenth the cost—and without disfiguring the Welsh hills. “How many of those assembly members,” he asked, “will manage to step outside the bubble of illusion surrounding wind power?”

David Rose in The Mail on Sunday, May 22, reported a remarkable meeting of climate skeptics and “warmists.” He asked John Mitchell of the British Meteorological Office how long the planet’s non-warming would have to continue before [Mitchell] would start to question the computerized climate models. Mitchell replied, “People underestimate the power of models. Observational evidence is not very useful.” In other words, don’t doubt the coming disaster of man-made global warming just because the planet has stopped warming.

Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Institute told the meeting, “a key determinant of climate is the level of cosmic rays from outer space that hit the earth: these high-energy particles ‘seed’ the clouds. . . . More rays mean more clouds, and in turn a cooler climate.” Svensmark has demonstrated that “quite small variations in the amount of cloud cover have a big effect on temperature, leaving only a “small ‘residual’ role for man-made CO2.

Finally, Briton Matt Ridley in the May 21 Wall Street Journal reported, “Haiti meets about 60 percent of its energy needs with charcoal produced from forests. Even bakeries, laundries, sugar refineries and rum distilleries run on the stuff. Full marks to renewable Haiti, the harbinger of a sustainable future! Or maybe not: Haiti has felled 98 percent of its tree cover and counting. . . . Haitians are now burning tree roots to make charcoal.”

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

100-Watt Incandescent Light Bulbs? Only 7 Months Left to Buy Them!

Do you hate those squiggly light bulbs, called CFLs? Read on to find out what CARE blog-favorite Diana Furchtgott-Roth has to say about our government banning incandescent light bulbs. You know the ones — those invented 130 years ago that lit up the Industrial Revolution. Speak out so you don't have to hoard your favorite light bulbs.

A Call For Light Bulb Sanity

As seen in RealClearMarkets.com
June 2, 2011.

WASHINGTON—America doesn't usually have shortages. Consumers as a rule can find what they want to buy at stores or online. But in 212 days, on January 1, 2012, Americans won't be able to buy 100-watt incandescent light bulbs, the kind Thomas Edison invented and the only kind many of us know—and prefer.

That's because incandescent light bulbs are being phased out by wattage over a two-year period, starting January 2012. The 100-watt bulb will be the first to be outlawed, by act of Congress, followed by 75-watt bulbs in January 2013, and 60- and 40-watt bulbs in January 2014.

So consumers who want to stock up have seven months to buy 100-watt bulbs, 19 months to buy 75-watt bulbs, and 31 months to buy 60- and 40-watt bulbs.

The legislation outlawing the 130-year old light bulb was introduced in 2007 by then-Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who resigned in February, and Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican. The bill was rolled into the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed by President George W. Bush in December 2007.

The reason for ending the use of incandescent bulbs is to save energy. They burn more electricity than do several newer types of bulbs.

Mr. Upton is now chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. While lobbying among Republicans for the position, he promised to try to repeal the section of the 2007 energy bill that prohibits incandescent bulbs.

"We have heard the grass roots loud and clear, and will have a hearing early next Congress," he said last December. "The last thing we wanted to do was infringe upon personal liberties—and this has been a good lesson that Congress does not always know best."

But Mr. Upton's committee has yet to hold the promised hearing, even though Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, proposed the Better Use of Light Bulb Act (BULB) on January 5.

Charlotte Baker, Chairman Upton's press secretary, told me in an email that "the committee plans to hold a hearing on lighting efficiency standards later this month," but she would not tell me whether the BULB Act would be included.

The bill, which has 62 cosponsors, 61 Republicans and one Democrat, would repeal the phaseout of incandescent light bulbs. A companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Wyoming Republican Michael Enzi, and has 28 cosponsors.

The House Republican leadership has evinced no interest in bringing the Barton bill to the floor.

In the meantime, it is perfectly lawful for consumers who prefer incandescent bulbs to stock up. Congress does not prohibit their use at home.

Without traditional light bulbs, Americans will be left to choose between three different types of new bulbs: compact fluorescent bulbs, known as CFLs, halogens, and light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

All three cost more, but are said to last longer than incandescent bulbs. As with hybrid cars, they carry a higher purchase cost but supposedly lower operating costs over time.

But compact fluorescents, LEDs, and halogen bulbs all have disadvantages.

The new bulbs are expensive. Today a conventional 100-watt bulb costs 58 cents on Amazon.com, compared with $2 for a CFL and $8.50 for a halogen. The LED is not yet available in a 100-watt size. The energy-efficient versions are supposed to last longer, but many people prefer not to pay the greater up-front cost. Or, if they have rooms they use infrequently, they don't see the point of putting in long-life bulbs.

Plus, many people do not like the light cast by fluorescents, even though these bulbs are the least expensive of the alternative energy set. Some say the light casts a yellow or blue tint, that it flickers, that the bulbs hum, that the light gives headaches.

And there is a back-end problem: compact fluorescents present disposal problems because they contain mercury. The Energy Department lists complex rules on its Web site here for disposing of the new bulbs.

If a CFL breaks, EPA instructions include leaving a room for 15 minutes and turning off forced air heating and cooling. Then, bulb remnants should not be swept up with a broom or vacuum cleaner, but carefully scooped up using stiff paper and placed in a canning jar or sealed plastic bag. Afterwards, sticky tape or wet wipes should be used to collect the last fragments.

This is not something most people want to do when they drop a light bulb. They just want to sweep it up, throw it in the trash, and get on with their day.

Even when a compact fluorescent light bulb reaches the end of its natural lfe, it cannot be placed in the garbage, according to EPA. It must be turned in at special recycling centers. EPA has links to recycling centers on its Web site. Consumers are instructed to keep purchase receipts, because if the bulb fails before two years, the customer can ask the manufacturer to replace it without charge.

Whereas incandescent bulbs are made in America, in plants such as Osram Sylvania's Kentucky facility, the vast majority of the new fluorescent bulbs are made in China, because twisting the glass into a CFL's spiral shape is labor-intensive. One American plant, Neptun, opened in Lake Bluff, Illinois , with funding from the stimulus program, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

It's unlikely that more CFL plants will open in America because of the high labor costs. It's not that CFL plants have moved offshore, CFLs were never made in America due to high labor costs. The main producers of CFLs, Philips, Sylvania, and GE, make their bulbs in China, with some Philips bulbs made in Poland.

Calls to repeal the incandescent light bulb ban are coming from consumers, who prefer incandescent lamps. According to the National Association of Electrical Manufacturers, approximately 25 percent of bulbs sold in 2010 were CFLs, and the rest were incandescents.

Businesses are opposed to changing the law. Light bulb producers have invested in new technology and want the eventual payoffs. They want an industry standard, and they don't mind if it's more expensive for the consumer.

Consumers should be free, in my opinion, to choose the light bulbs they prefer. If Congress believes that consumers should conserve energy, it can impose a tax on the model bulbs whose use it would discourage, or on electricity in general.

The argument that consumers are irrational, that they don't want to pay more upfront for a better, longer-lasting, product, doesn't square with reality. Consumers buy plenty of expensive goods, ranging from luxury cars to the latest smart phone. When consumers want something, they buy it. And they don't seem to want fluorescent bulbs.

Chairman Upton, Americans will start to lose their incandescent light bulbs in 212 days. How about voting Mr. Barton's bill out of committee and sending it to the House floor?

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.