Friday, October 01, 2010

Eliminating Light Bulb Ban: There is New Hope


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We've talked a lot in the migraine community about the problems that will result from Congress's decision to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Many of you are likely using CFLs and don't see what the problem is.

CFLs have many features to recommend their use. They are highly energy efficient and last a long time, eliminating the need to buy light bulbs or change them very often. You certainly don't need to be a tree hugging hippie to see their benefits.

Unfortunately they can be problematic for people with migraines and other health issues. The problem is that CFLs can trigger migraine attacks and epileptic seizures in some people and irritate people with skin issues. So while the goal of reducing energy use is noble and good, increasing the pain and suffering of already vulnerable people is not an acceptable trade off.

The Representatives who introduced the bill to eliminate the ban have a somewhat different motivation. They are concerned about the ban sending American jobs overseas and believe the repeal will keep jobs in the US by rescuing the market for incandescent light bulbs, which are primarily made in the US. The majority of CFLs are manufactured in China. They are also concerned about mercury exposure from CFLs. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, but when the bulbs are disposed of properly experts say they propose little to no risk to consumers. Unfortunately if they break they do pose a danger, especially to fetuses and children. (Experts suggest putting them inside a glass jar with a lid to safely dispose of them.)

Regardless of whether we agree with all their points, they acknowledge the health problems in their press release and have opened a window for us to repeal the law that stands to cause our community so much trouble when incandescent bulbs are phased out in 2014. The window for action, however, is incredibly small. The bill has been referred to committee. It will need to be considered in committee, passed out of committee, considered by the entire House body, referred to the Senate and, most likely, reconciled in conference committee. If it is not taken up before they leave for the mid-term election or during the lame duck session when they return after the election, it will fall by the wayside.

I think you all know I tend to be more liberal than not, but I stand firmly with these three Republican representatives on this bill. I hope you will, too. Our next step is to write the people on the committee and our Congressional representatives in support of the bill.

If you like you can download this letter and copy & paste the text to your emails to make the process easier. Feel free to personalize it as you see fit: Sample Letter.

To find out who your Representative is and send him/her an email, visit the House of Representatives site: Write Your Representative.

To write the members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment click on each person's name to go to the page where you can send him/her an email.


Edward J. Markey (D) - MA
Fred Upton (R) - MI (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Mike Doyle (D) - PA
G. K. Butterfield (D) - NC (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Charlie Melancon (D) - LA
Baron P. Hill (D) - IN (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Doris O. Matsui (D) - CA (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Jerry McNerney (D) - CA (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Peter Welch (D) - VT (only takes email from constituents of his district)
John D. Dingell (D) - MI
Rick Boucher (D) - VA (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (D) - NJ (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Eliot L. Engel (D) - NY (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Gene Green (D) - TX (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Lois Capps (D) - CA (only takes email from constituents of her district)
Jane Harman (D) - CA (only takes email from constituents of her district)
Charles A. Gonzalez (D) - TX
Tammy Baldwin (D) - WI (only takes email from constituents of her district)
Mike Ross (D) - AR (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Jim Matheson (D) - UT
John Barrow (D) - GA
Ralph M. Hall (R) - TX (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Cliff Stearns (R) - FL (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Ed Whitfield (R) - KY (only takes email from constituents of his district)
John Shimkus (R) - IL (only takes email from constituents of his district)
John B. Shadegg (R) - AZ
Roy Blunt (R) - MO
Joseph R. Pitts (R) - PA
Mary Bono Mack (R) - CA (only takes email from constituents of her district)
John Sullivan (R) - OK (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Michael C. Burgess (R) - TX (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Steve Scalise (R) - LA (only takes email from constituents of his district)
Parker Griffith (R) - AL (only takes email from constituents of his district)


Sources:
How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?
H.R. 6144: Better Use of Light Bulbs Act
Barton, Burgess and Blackburn Introduce Bill to Repeal Light Bulb Ban
Low Energy Bulbs and Migraines
Are Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Dangerous?


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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.