Ninety-six. That's the number of 60-watt incandescent light bulbs I purchased last weekend after learning the other kind, the compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) environmentalists are so in love with, are hazardous to my health and to the environment. I would have preferred a higher wattage but discovered the 75-watt version was outlawed January 1st.
It took about three hours to replace every CFL bulb in my house and carefully place them in a huge plastic container used to transport them to the recycling center at a local home improvement store. I said a quick prayer for safety while coasting down the road in my SUV. A HAZMAT decal would have come in handy because had I been in a collision, I had enough mercury on board to make the evening news. And because I am a Conservative, they might have labeled me a home-grown terrorist.
CFLs aren't all they're cracked up to be. Back in 2008, some Yale University scientists isolated CFLs' benefits down to one: lower energy bills. The scientists questioned whether a little savings was worth the danger attached to mercury exposure and "runoff downstream."
Besides making the environment sick, researchers recently discovered these "environmentally friendly" light bulbs aren't friendly to humans either. According to the UK Telegraph, CFLs "should not be left on for extended periods, particularly near someone's head" because "they emit poisonous materials when switched on." The report found those "carcinogenic substances" should be "kept as far away as possible from the human environment" because they may cause migraines, skin problems and breast cancer. Great.
It really makes no sense. Somehow it's okay to have mercury housed in delicate glass bulbs inside every home in America, yet the EPA feels compelled to enact new regulations like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) limiting mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants promising MATS would raise kids' IQs, prevent a substantial amount of premature deaths, reduce heart attacks, and lessen childhood asthma. I'd settle for weight control and whiter teeth.
Sounds wonderful. Problem is, the EPA's logic is about as twisted as a CFL, considering most people don't live next to a coal-fired plant, but every home in America using CFLs is at risk of mercury exposure.
They say the pricey CFL's are cost efficient, but fail to mention their measure for efficiency decreases if the bulbs are switched on and off. Nor do they discuss the outrageous price per bulb or the gas usage (carbon footprint) involved in transporting old bulbs. They also fail to factor in human nature; most people will simply discard old bulbs instead of spending their Saturday driving to the recycling center.
Seems to me, enacting the most expensive EPA rule revision in history, MATS, has less to do with people and more to do with coal-fired plants. Back in January 2012, the Washington Times said the rule will cost power plants up to $18 billion a year and "will be passed directly to consumers." I've always believed Progressives love the planet but hate the people who live on it. Think about it. They are quick to condemn environmental violators but conveniently ignore the massive amounts of mercury Mother Nature herself spews out by way of volcanoes, deep-sea vents and geysers. Maybe we should tax the planet, just for good measure.
According to Power Engineering Magazine, by 2016, EPA rules will force the shutdown of "32 mostly coal-fired power plants" in 12 states, and possibly 36 others. The shutdowns will lead to higher power costs, less jobs, and potential rationing. Before long, we'll be rubbing sticks together to cook food, stay warm, and find our way to the community outhouse.
But, in the meantime...tonight I celebrate. I purged my home of all those hazy mercury-filled bulbs and I'm switching on every last one of my incandescent bulbs to celebrate -- in hopes the Google Earth satellite will drift my way and snap a picture. My house will be one of the brightest spots on the planet, second only to Al Gore's.
Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist, motivational speaker and military advocate who writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Email Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org or her website at susanstamperbrown.com.