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Monday, July 6, 2009

Efficiency Standards, Unfunded Mandates. . . and Success

Front page of the Business section of the New York Times today notes that old incandescent bulbs aren't fading away; they're. . . evolving.

Why is that? Pressure from CFLs is one piece. But the real push came from the Big Bad Gummint, in the Federal Energy Bill of 2007.

The feds set energy efficiency standards that appeared to make the demise of the incandescent bulb inevitable--starting in 2012, tightening the final screws in 2014. Two years later (and three years early), there's an incandescent bulb on the market that already meets the standard.

This is interesting in that it belies the constant yammering on the right that gummint has no place “interfering in the market.”

Okay, so what what you want is the withdrawal of all subsidies, giveaways, and tax incentives given to the hydrocarbon industries, right?

Hello? Hello? He hung up. I wonder why he hung up.

It's a weird kind of adolescent-doesn't-want-to-clean-her-room argument: “I'll do it as soon as you stop telling me to do it--in my own way, in my own time!”

But when you come back the next day, the pile of damp towels on the floor is even higher.

I don't think regulation is The Answer. But when they talk about “market forces,” a key part of what that means is action to define, and consistently enforce, the parameters of what is and is not acceptable, in both commercial and environmental terms.

I had thought the 2007 bill banned incandescents (and I thought that was the way to go; I stand corrected). Turns out, instead, the bill did what the free marketeers always say they want: set the bar and let the market compete to produce cost-effective solutions.

It has started to do so. Doubtless, we will now begin to see Republicans, en masse, lauding freemarket greentech solutions.

Hello? Hello. . . ?

In other news: I wonder how this happened. It's a mystery. . .