The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 — one of the most pork-filled bits of federal energy legislation ever passed by Congress — continues to haunt us.
That legislation, signed into law by George W. Bush, forced more ethanol into our motor-fuel supply. And come New Year’s Day, it will effectively eliminate a type of light bulb — the standard 40- and 60-watt incandescent — that consumers have been using since the days of Thomas Edison. (The January 1 ban on 40- and 60-watt bulbs follows the phase-out of the 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs that took effect at the beginning of this year.)
To be clear, this is not the end of the republic. But it is yet another maddening example of governmental intervention in the energy marketplace that simply isn’t needed.
The motivation behind the ban on standard incandescent bulbs is greater efficiency. The EPA claims that the light-bulb ban will cut consumers’ electricity bills by about $6 billion by 2015. It also claims that the move will reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants and cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
All that may be true. But $6 billion in savings is a vanishingly small sliver of the U.S. GDP of about $16 trillion. Furthermore, the United States already leads the world in cutting its greenhouse-gas emissions, thanks to the fact that natural gas is displacing significant amounts of coal in the electric-generation sector.