Would-Be Republican Energy Chairman Now Downplays His Successful Effort to Ban Incandescent Light Bulb

By Susan Jones | December 7, 2010 | 11:14 AM EST

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) seeks the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee

(CNSNews.com) – Typing the words “light bulb,” “lighting efficiency,” and “incandescent” into the search box of Rep. Fred Upton’s official Web site produces no results.

“No documents matched your inquiry,” the Web site said on Tuesday morning.

That’s undoubtedly the way the Michigan Republican wants it. His support for an amendment leading to the phase-out of the incandescent light bulb is one of the reasons Upton faces conservative opposition in his bid to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Press reports on Tuesday noted that Upton is now willing to “undo that law as the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,” as the Washington Times put it.

However, since Upton worked with Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) on various “energy efficiency” measures, a search of Harman’s Web site – using the same phrases -- produced a number of search results that also mention Upton.

In a June 27, 2007 news release, Harman noted that the House Energy and Commerce Committee had approved an amendment authored by Harman and Upton “to ban by 2020 the sale of any light bulb that is not three times more efficient than today’s incandescent bulbs.” At the time, Harman said light bulbs were “a big part” of the nation’s “energy problem.”

Harman said the legislation would promote the use of halogen lamps and compact fluorescent bulbs.

As recently as May 5 of this year, Harman and Upton introduced bipartisan legislation establishing new efficiency standards for new outdoor light fixtures.

Harman’s May 5 news release quoted Upton as saying: “We must continue to put the spotlight on energy savings. As our nation’s energy needs are expected to jump significantly over the next two decades, it is imperative that we take advantage of burgeoning efficient technologies.  With American industry taking the lead, we will help create jobs here at home and save communities billions of dollars each year in their energy bills.”
In the years (and months) since Upton and Harman collaborated on light bulb/energy efficiency bills, Upton has had a change of heart.

"We have heard the grass roots loud and clear, and will have a hearing early next Congress," the Washington Times quoted Upton as saying. "The last thing we wanted to do was infringe upon personal liberties — and this has been a good lesson that Congress does not always know best."

Upton’s bid for House energy committee chair has drawn opposition from a number of conservatives, including some of his House colleagues.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who also wants to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the next Congress, in September introduced a bill to repeal Upton’s light bulb efficiency law.

Said Barton at the time: “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 worker.” Barton listed a number of examples of how Washington is “making too many decisions that are better left to people who work for their own paychecks and earn their own living.”

As CNSNews.com previously reported, a number of conservatives say it would be an insult if House Republicans allow the liberal Upton to chair the House energy committee in the new Congress.

Also see:
Republican Co-Author of Incandescent-Bulb Ban Seeks Chair of House Energy Committee (Nov. 8, 2010)