THE BLOG
07/28/2011 11:11 am ET Updated Sep 27, 2011

How Many Polluters Does It Take to Turn On a Light Bulb?

In yet another dim bulb move, the U.S. House of Representatives just approved legislation blocking a mandated increase in light bulb efficiency. At least one good thing has come out of the new Dim Bulb Movement: Pro-polluters are finally publicly admitting that mercury is poisonous.

As James Taylor (no, not the one we have had a crush on for thirty years) of the Heartland Institute, put it, "We have enough coal and natural gas to last us for centuries so what's the point of quote unquote saving energy by exposing ourselves to mercury poisoning?"

Guess that means he totally supports the EPA's new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to clean up those poisons, right? Don't count on it. The Heartland Institute is the science deniers' clubhouse. But they get airtime on major media -- especially Fox News, which we might as well start calling Fox Views. Taylor also writes a column for Forbes magazine.

Writer Ben Stein told Fox Views: "These little curly-cue fluorescent bulbs have lead and mercury in them and all kinds of stuff that poison the atmosphere and poison the soil when you get rid of them."

Good. He gets it. Mercury is bad for our health. However, the amount of mercury in a CFL is less than what was in an old-fashioned thermometer. If a CFL bulb breaks, and you inhale the mercury, you would get an amount equivalent to a tiny nibble of tuna.

Why are we talking about tuna fish? Because large fish are contaminated with so much mercury from coal-fired electric plants that pregnant women are warned not to eat it.

That's the level of mercury poisoning everyone should be worrying about. The kind the EPA wants to regulate with its new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. But we don't hear the dim bulbs asking for stronger rules on "lead and mercury and all kinds of stuff that poison the atmosphere" coming out of coal plants.

Science deniers use science when it suits their arguments, and ignore it when it doesn't.

While we're at it, here's a reality check on light bulbs. The Energy Department is NOT banning incandescent bulbs. It is NOT mandating the use of CFLs -- despite what you read in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, or Fox News. If you want to keep using incandescent bulbs, you will have plenty to choose from: Bulbirte, Sylvania, GE, and Phillips are selling advanced incandescents. No need to stockpile old bulbs. You'll be saving money on your electric bills with bulbs that are more efficient. And before too long, we'll have affordable LEDs and even more choice in CFLs.

So tell your Congresspeople to stop wasting their time -- and our tax dollars -- on nonsense. It's unhealthy. Join MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE to fight for our children's health.