RECIND FRED UPTON’S LIGHT BULB LAW
By ROBIN BRAVENDER | 11/12/10 5:31 PM EST Updated: 11/14/10 7:35 AM EST
Rep. Fred Upton’s support for eco-friendly light bulbs could leave him in the dark in his bid to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Conservatives on and off Capitol Hill are waging a campaign to show that the Michigan Republican isn’t conservative enough to chair the powerful committee that will be in the center over fight on health care and energy policy next year.
For proof, they’re pointing to Upton’s support for phasing out some incandescent light bulbs in favor of greener alternatives.
Right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh cited Upton’s promotion of eco-friendly light bulbs evidence that he shouldn’t take the Energy and Commerce gavel.
“This would be a tone-deaf disaster if the Republican leadership lets Fred Upton ascend to the chairmanship of the House energy committee,” Limbaugh said this week. “This is exactly the kind of nannyism, statism, what have you, that was voted against and was defeated last week. No Republican complicit in nannyism, statism, can be rewarded this way.”
Upton (R-Mich.) teamed up with California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman on 2007 legislation aimed at phasing out the use of incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient bulbs. That language eventually became law as part of a larger energy bill. The pair co-sponsored another bill this May to establish another round of efficient light bulb standards.
Upton’s support for the 2007 light bulb regulation is also highlighted on an unsigned document circulating on Capitol Hill that questions his conservative voting record. Staff for former Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton – Upton’s most vocal challenger for the post – is behind the document, GOP sources told POLITICO.
When it comes to light bulbs, Barton has bolstered his conservative credentials.
The Texas Republican introduced a bill to repeal the light bulb law this fall along with Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
“The unanticipated consequence of the ’07 act – Washington-mandated layoffs in the middle of a desperate recession – is one of many examples of what happens when politicians and activists think they know better than consumers and workers,” Barton said in September.
Other lawmakers have also assailed the light bulb regulations, including tea party favorite Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.
“Fundamentally, it is an issue of freedom,” Bachmann said in 2008. “It’s about whether people are able to make even the most basic decisions anymore or whether Big Brother will control every aspect of their lives.”
Upton declined to comment for this story, but at a 2009 hearing, he defended the law.
“Our work on light bulbs wasn’t an arbitrary mandate,” he said. “We didn’t just pick a standard out of the air, or look for a catchy sounding standard like 25 by 2025 not based in science or feasibility. Instead, we worked with both industry and environmental groups to come up with a standard that made sense and was doable.”