‘They came for our toilets. Now, they want our light bulbs’

Earlier this afternoon, we gave a mention to SB 61, the bill that declares Georgia’s sovereign authority over incandescent light bulbs that do not cross state lines.

Federal energy efficiency regulations are forcing a phase-out of Mr. Edison’s version. Here’s the gist of the bill:

”Notwithstanding any other law, a person may possess, use, manufacture, purchase, install, transport, sell, or internationally export an incandescent light bulb that is manufactured commercially or privately in this state if the light bulb is not exported to another state.

“This Code section applies to an incandescent light bulb that is manufactured in this state from basic materials and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported from another state. The importation into this state of any generic or insignificant part that has other manufacturing or consumer product applications or any basic materials does not subject the incandescent light bulb to federal regulation.”

State Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville

State Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville

As it turned out, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, has written an op-ed piece explaining the measure. Here it is:

First, they came for our toilets. Now, they want our light bulbs.

Believe it or not, I’m serious about this.

In 1995, the federal government tried to mandate water conservation. All homes would use low-flow toilets and, of course, water would be saved. Well, now that all toilets in the U.S. flush with no more than 1.6 gallons of water, a University of Arizona study showed that people just flush twice. The bottom line: no significant water savings.

The federal government, once again, shows the worth of its good intentions.

Now, in an effort to save energy, the federal watchdogs prove they have not learned anything from the great toilet fiasco of 1995. By 2014, energy efficiency limits on 40- to 100-watt light bulbs will effectively ban most standard incandescent light bulbs in the United States of America. You do remember all that “land of the free” mumbo jumbo, right?

The government, it seems, wants us to use the more expensive but “efficient” compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). The math is simple: CFL bulbs use less energy; if everyone uses CFL bulbs, energy consumption will drop. Well, if you said it can’t be that simple, you’d be right. CFL bulbs cost three times more to produce, take more energy to manufacture and 80 percent of them are made in China, meaning they are shipped across the globe on oil-guzzling tanker ships.

Making matters worse, CFL bulbs contain mercury and are considered an environmental hazard to homes and businesses. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency offers guidelines on how to clean up broken CFL bulbs. The guidelines are three-pages long and, according to the EPA Website, will be updated as more information becomes available.

According to the EPA, the minimum actions that should be taken once a CFL bulb is broken include: open doors and windows for 5-10 minutes, shut off the air conditioner or heater, scoop up broken material and place it in a glass container with a metal lid, use duct tape to clean up the remaining particles and put the used duct tape in a glass jar with a metal lid. If you vacuum the area, you must remove the vacuum bag when you are done, put it in a sealed plastic bag and get it out of your house.

However you choose to clean up, you should let the house air out, without the AC or heater going, for “several hours.” The next several times you vacuum the area, you again should open windows and doors for several hours, turn off the AC and heater and seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag. Some states, the EPA says, have specific guideline for where you must go to dispose of the sealed plastic bags and glass jars with metal lids.

I’ve used CFL bulbs in my house, mostly to see if I noticed a difference. My power bill did not seem to change but I can say with authority that the light level that these little things give off stinks.

I’ve sponsored Senate Bill 61, moving through the General Assembly now, which says federal law cannot ban incandescent bulbs in Georgia if they are made here and not shipped across state lines. Lawyers tell me this may not work. The federal government rules are too strong for state law to overcome. I’m going to push anyway. Maybe, just maybe, common sense is not lying broken in a pile of mercury-tainted glass.

In other words, you can have my filament when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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76 comments Add your comment

No dog in this hunt

February 17th, 2011
9:52 pm

CFLs save power and I am using a three way right now on medium level. But the point is that when government legislates for conservation (higher gas mileage, less water in toilets, lower power to bulbs), it might drive conservation. Legislating against a particular technology, rather than its impacts, has the ability to create stupid laws such as outlawing an efficient product based on an old technology.

And, if I want to drink on Sunday, I will. I just go to a bar or a sporting event and drink as much as I want, and then I hit the road home. I hope the church crowd is off the road by then.


February 17th, 2011
9:57 pm

Like anyone in Georgia makes anything but moonshine and inbred babies.

AARP member who votes

February 17th, 2011
10:05 pm

I bought all my CF light bulbs at Walmart more than 6 years ago. Still going strong. Have yet to replace any; bought them during that Energy tax exempt days. Light OK, and it is nice to not replace bulbs in hard to get to places. Of course, GA Power just raised the cost. My usage is less, but the cost is more. Heat set on 57º as a result of the price increase.


February 17th, 2011
10:18 pm

I have some CFL that are 12 years old and still going. The light is not as good as traditional bulbs, but I despise Ga Power and their constant rate increases so I trying everything to keep them out of my pocket.


February 17th, 2011
10:37 pm

To cj, who asked if the Georgia legislature could get any “stupider”.
Yes they can and will.
It has nver failed in the history of the state. Wait until they kill the Sunday alchol bill, then pass a law that allows you to carry a gun into church…on Sunday.

The Centrist

February 17th, 2011
10:43 pm

Anyone who experience power surges and gives you a political excuse for keeping incandescent light bulbs, has a mental circuit problem.

There is a sickness in GA

February 17th, 2011
11:09 pm

Mr. Loudermilk is a dim bulb. 1.) The U of A study he is citing is 11 years old 2.) Instead of recommending against the use of low-flow toilets, the report recommends that the design of low-consumption toilets be modified to reduce deliberate and inadvertent alterations of the flush mechanism that increase water use. This is exactly what happened, manufacturers significantly improved the toilets and for much of the last decade the concerns cited by the U of A study no longer hold water.

Back in the day, Loudermilk would have probably been against the federal governments transition from horse and buggy to car too.


February 18th, 2011
12:40 am

Anyone recall who the lame-brained President who SIGNED this legislation to ban incandescent bulbs? Anyone? George Freaking Dumbest Dubya Bush.

The Bush Family has been nothing but a joke played-on America for far too long. First Bush Prez was a liar. 2nd Bush Prez was an idiot. Now there is talk about a 3rd Bush running for Prez. Are we going to be that stupid to fall for another fraudulent conservative?

R U Kidding Me?

February 18th, 2011
8:20 am

Barry Loudermilk is an ultra right-wing pandering whack-a-doodle! His campaign slogan is “Faith, Family and Freedom”. Hey Barry, how about “Water, Roads, and Education”? You continue to pander to the fringe voters, while ignoring the issues that are most critical to Georgia.

First it was red light cameras, and now its light bulbs. The Georgia Legislature has more than enough crazies without you joining in the act. While you waste time with meaningless legislation and publicity stunts, the state just closed the largest mental hospital in North Georgia which sits squarely in your district. Besides putting another 800 of your constituants in the unemployment line, they put a few hundred of the most severely mentally handicapped patients out on the street. Instead of worrying about red light cameras and light bulbs, why don’t to do something to address the closing of the NW Georgia Regional Hospital? The voters of Rome and Cartersville sat on their rear ends and allowed you to win an open Senate seat without ANY opposition. Trust me Barry, that WILL NOT happen again.

While you pander to the bottom feeders of the ballot box, the rest of us can only sit back and watch you make the 52nd District the laughing stock of Georgia.


February 18th, 2011
8:41 am

For those of you criticizing Loudermilk on Sunday sales, he was very much undecided on the issue, and could have gone either way. I personally asked him about it, and he could understand very clearly both sides of the issue.

As far as the lightbulb issue, it is more about the government telling industries what they can and can’t manufacture. I don’t understand why people are okay with the government outlawing one kind of lightbulb but allowing another. In a true free market, the one that gets sold the most will win (anyone remember VHS vs. Beta???) That is the issue with Sen. Loudermilk.

I am disappointed that Mr. Galloway wants to continuously focus on the side issues instead of the other things that the state legislature is working on.

The people of Senate district 52 elected Loudermilk because of his record of actually reading the bills and applying the state and federal constitution to his votes, plus the fact that he is honest about his views. That is what people up here want. Even when you disagree with him, you always know he’s telling you the truth. I’d rather have someone honest than someone I agree with 100% of the time. At least I know where he stands and isn’t just telling me something to get re-elected.


February 18th, 2011
8:43 am

Oh, and how can you say Loudermilk won an open senate seat with no opposition? I voted for Loudermilk in the primary vs. some guy named Jeff Knight, and in the general vs. a guy named Burton. Maybe “unopposed” has a different meaning where you come from.

Real Athens

February 18th, 2011
9:12 am

Isn’t Senator Loudermilk the one focusing on side issues? Isn’t he wasting time digging up 11 year old research papers to use out of context to promote his toilet/lightbulb agenda?

Should honesty in ones views ever trump intelligence? Someone is telling you what they believe to be true does not always make it the truth.

My grandmother always said: “Just ’cause you say it, don’t make it so”.


February 18th, 2011
9:22 am

Dear Senator Loudermilk,

I’m afraid you have some incorrect information. All homes in the U.S. do not have 1.6 gpf toilets. Yes, 1.6 gpf toilets became standard in 1993-1994, and yes the first versions weren’t designed well: in order to meet new standards quickly, manufacturers reconfigured toilet tanks so they used less water, but they didn’t reconfigure the traps. This is why some of the first 1.6 gpf toilets had to be flushed twice. Fortunately, manufacturers quickly began to design better toilets — tank and trap to match — and these toilets flush just fine. In fact, many of them flush better than older toilets that use 3.5, 5, and even 7 gallons per flush. Yes, there are still older toilets out there that use huge amounts of water when they flush. They are inefficient, and many of them leak/don’t flush well because they are at 40 or 50 years old. The latest toilet designs use 1.28 gpf or even less (The Stealth toilet uses 1 gpf — I’ve tried one, and they were great!

The tired, old argument that high-efficiency toilets don’t flush well is just plain wrong. They work extremely well, use much less water, and are the best thing going. If you’d like to see state-of-the-art toilets that are being manufactured in Georgia by Georgians in a state-of-the-art factory…please visit the TOTO plant in Morrow. You will be amazed…and, I hope, educated. And you might leave with a couple of fantastic toilets made in your home state.


February 18th, 2011
10:24 am

The unpublicised industrial politics behind the ban, with documentation, and copies of
business communications from US Dept of Energy: http://ceolas.net/#li1ax

The Oddball

February 18th, 2011
10:38 am

There is nothing more pathetic than state legislators making public policy on the basis of urban legends. Relax and take a deep breath. The ATF is not coming to take away your guns, and contrary to Mr. Galloway’s unfortunate phrase, the “federal energy efficiency regulations are forcing a phase-out” of the incandescant light bulb.

Yes, increased energy efficiency requirements were enacted, more than THREE FREAKIN’ YEARS ago, to be phased in gradually. But they are full of exceptions and exemptions, and the incandescent light bulb will be around as long as you want to buy one.

The Oddball

February 18th, 2011
10:39 am

Ooops, left out a critical “not.” Should read: “The ATF is not coming to take away your guns, and contrary to Mr. Galloway’s unfortunate phrase, the “federal energy efficiency regulations are NOT forcing a phase-out” of the incandescant light bulb.

blue moon

February 18th, 2011
10:52 am

What exactly do you want Loudermilk to do about Plant Bowen?

R U Kidding Me?

February 18th, 2011
11:13 am


Next time you talk to Barry, ask him to author some legislation that solves Georgia’s water crisis; or author some legislation that solves Georgia’s transportation problems; or author some legislation that solves Georgia’s dismal education system. AFTER he’s done that, tell him he can waste time pandering to the fringe element with garbage bills like red light cameras and light bulbs. Of the 100 most critical issues facing Georgia, light bulbs aren’t in the top 1,000. Yet, Senator Whack-a-doodle wants to focus the irrelevent issues of the day, mainly because he can ride the “Anti-federal Government” train back into office. It’s called political pandering. It is NOT called LEADERSHIP. If Senator Whack-a-doodle had EVER authored a piece of constructive legislation, that would be one thing. But he hasn’t. Loudermilk, Chip Rogers, and Bobby Franklin are 3 of the biggest wackos in the Georgia Legislature.

Andrew Norton

February 18th, 2011
12:03 pm

methinks the man doth protest too much.

In the UK, toilets use a lot less than 1.6g to flush, have done for decades. Never had to flush twice.
My father there bought some of the very first CFLs around 1992. It was for a light in the stairwell that was hard to change, and also was on most of the night, every night (because of the layout of the house, to avoid falling down the stairs). Last time I visited him, almost exactly 8 years ago, that same bulb was still going.

Now, the CFLs *are* more susceptible to voltage spikes than TFL’s, and I wonder if the electrics in Mr Loudermilk’’s house are on the ‘defective’ side.

Besides, good luck making it ‘mostly in Georgia, from Georgia resources’. The KEY element is the Tungsten filament, and that isn’t mined in the US at all (to my knowledge) and over 90% of the worlds supply of Tungsten is… CHINA.

If he did less posturing, and more research, he’d look like less of an ass

RB - Georgia Veteran

February 18th, 2011
12:06 pm

According to the Thomas Register (list of manufacturers) there is NO manufacturer of light bulbs in Georgia. This is a bill that is a waste of energy. SB 61 wastes time that could be spent on more important items – like trying to handle the state budget deficit.
Another blowhard that thinks his state bill can mandate behavior. His evidence (a university study funded by the US) is incomplete (he ignores the facts and only selected the phrase “people flush more”. A spurious argument, at best.

[...] bi-partisan 2007 US law that will bring consumers better and more energy efficient lighting …'They came for our toilets. Now, they want our light bulbs'Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Edison's light bulb on its way out, but consumers have [...]


February 19th, 2011
2:48 pm

Once again we here only the bad part of the incandescent light bulb argument from one of our “enlightened” Georgia elected !! If you save 80% energy with each bulb mutiplied by the billions that will replace the ones now being used more than makes up for the energy used to produce and mail to us !! What is with the republicans…this is the same old “seat belts will ruin the world” that you cry any time a new idea is even considered…so backwoods !! Europe has had a ban on old bulbs for 2 years as even the middle east and third world countries are doing… but not Americans… right? We are so special we do not have to worry about what is harming our earth,especially our air and water.. so we argue against anything that even attempts to make our world better. If you have ever lived with Foreign students you woud know that they actually turn off lights when they leave a room, recycle everything they can, and think that Americans are lazy and wasteful…hmmm…

Fed up in 52

February 20th, 2011
3:01 pm

@ Boris…Oh, no…this is too good to be fiction. He IS that dumb. A complete total waste of time for the 52 Senate District-We have no representation in Rome/Floyd County between this guy and Katie Dempsey. The campaign to oust Barry Loudermilk is on…join today and help rid the Gold Dome of fools!


February 20th, 2011
9:36 pm

the federal government is allowed to intrude in what kind of intoxicants you choose to ingest, intrude in your sexuality as it compares to public service and choosing to marry someone, and the workings of your reproductive system… but it is NOT allowed to intrude in how i light my home!

can’t wait for some retarded libertarian to burn down their trailer after using pitch torches as a show of defiance against socalist communazi oppression


February 20th, 2011
9:40 pm

“Legislating against a particular technology, rather than its impacts, has the ability to create stupid laws such as outlawing an efficient product based on an old technology.”

that isn’t what happened here, though. incandescent bulbs aren’t banned… just some forms of bulbs that do not meet energy efficiency thresholds. a new form of incandescent bulb that uses as much, or less, energy than a CFL would be perfectly legal


February 21st, 2011
11:40 am

This is the absolute dumbest thing I’ve ever read. what’s next toliet paper?