Ted Poe’s Speech to the House on “Energy-Saving” Light Bulbs

Transcript of Texas Rep. Ted Poe’s Speech to the House on “Energy-Saving” Light Bulbs. Transcript by TomCat.

Congress passed an energy bill which should have been called the anti-American non-energy bill because it punishes Americans for using energy rather than finding new sources of affordable energy. But the bill does one thing Madam Speaker; it controls the type of light bulbs that all Americans must use throughout our fruited plains. Congress’s energy bill bans incandescent light bulbs by 2014 and requires Americans to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. Those are called CFLs.  Now we can say goodbye to Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb and his invention.

Madam Speaker, I have a Constitution here and like most members of Congress, I carry it with me. I’ve read it through and through, but I don’t see anywhere in the U.S. Constitution that it gives the government the power to control the type of light bulbs used in Dimes Box, Texas, or any other place in the United States.

Besides the lack of Constitutional authority, let me discuss these light bulbs further. “Nothing in Congress seems to be easy”, and that phrase is certainly true with these CFLs. These light bulbs contain mercury, so they have to be disposed of in a certain way. According to EPA rules, you’re supposed to take them to a local recycling center. Thanks to Congress, nothing is easy. If you throw them out at home, you’re supposed to seal the bulb in two plastic bags and place them in the outside trash. Otherwise, the bulb may break and pollute the landfill, of all things.

CFLs are made of glass so they’re fragile, if one breaks it, or drops it, you have to follow simple rules, thanks to Congress, and according to the EPA, here’s what you do if you break one of these light bulbs. And I quote, “Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the area. One must evacuate the room.” Madam Speaker. I continue, “Open a window and leave the room for fifteen minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air-conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid.” Obviously that’s readily available. I continue, “Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small fragments and powder.” Of course we do have lots of duct tape in Texas, so that’s no problem. But we’re not through yet. I continue to quote, “Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipes, and place them in the glass jar. Do not use a vacuum or a broom.”

And Madam Speaker I ask unanimous consent to file this three-page single-spaced requirements the EPA has made all Americans follow in disposing one of these broken light bulbs. Thank you.

If you break a light bulb in a high-rise where the windows don’t open, will the EPA light bulb police haul us off to jail because of improper disposal procedure? If I drop this light bulb, we would have to evacuate the House of Representatives according to the EPA light bulb law. Have we gone a bit too far with this nonsense?
Thanks to Congress, we are making what is simple, very difficult. And besides, these light bulbs are expensive, and using them fades photographs on the wall. Now, Madam Speaker, I am going to carefully remove one of these light bulbs from a box, that contains all these warnings on the outside. And this is one of those CFL light bulbs that Congress is requiring all Americans to use by 2014.

There is more to the requirements of using these. It says here, and I quote, “These light bulbs may cause interference to radios, televisions, wireless phones, and remote controls. Now we’re in trouble for Monday night Football because we’re going to have to turn out the lights so there’s no interference with our TV.

We can also thank Congress for giving more money to China. This light bulb, it says right here with all the warnings on it, is made in China. And Madam Speaker, they are only made in China. They’re not made in the United States. We import every one of these things. And over the past year, we’ve seen Chinese pet food kill our dogs and cats. Chinese lead paint is poisoning our children. And now Chinese light bulbs that contain mercury can be harmful to our health. Doesn’t this bother anybody?

Meanwhile, gasoline nears four dollars a gallons, and Congress still has no energy plan except, turn on these light bulbs. Oh I yearn for the day when America took care of Americans by developing our own abundant natural resources, like coal, and natural gas, and crude oil, to provide affordable energy to America. But those days have gone the way of Edison’s incandescent light bulb. We might as well turn out the lights. The party’s over, and that’s just the way it is. Madam Speaker, I yield back.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace