Here is an editorial from today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
The fate of Americans making conventional incandescent light bulbs shows the “green” future touted as U.S. manufacturing’s salvation is yet another faulty government premise.
Congress effectively outlawed incandescent bulbs as of 2014 (the measure was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008). The Obama administration portrays their leading “green” replacements — spiral-shaped compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which American engineers developed in the 1970s — as a bonanza for U.S. manufacturers.
Yet The Washington Post reports that when General Electric this month closes its last U.S. incandescent bulb factory in Virginia, that plant’s 200 workers won’t go on to make CFLs for GE. No, they’ll simply be jobless. GE can’t compete with Chinese makers of labor-intensive CFLs.
Compact flourescents indeed use less energy than incandescents. But their “green” benefits are as dubious as their benefits for U.S. manufacturers. The mercury they contain makes routine disposal a pain and a broken CFL practically a hazmat incident — hardly eco-friendly characteristics. They’re also vulnerable to temperature extremes and don’t emit light instantaneously.
Producing unintended negative consequences while failing to deliver promised economic and ecological advantages, compact fluorescent bulbs exemplify yet again just how off-target government “green” policies are.