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Bill would keep light bulbs burning in S.C.

If state Rep. Bill Sandifer has his way, incandescent light bulbs will keep burning brightly in the Palmetto State after the rest of the nation switches to lower-energy-using bulbs.

The South Carolina Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act, which is up for debate on the House floor next week, would allow makers of the traditional bulbs in South Carolina to continue selling their product - but only in S.C.

That way, Sandifer said, the interstate commerce issue that the federal government uses as its basis to regulate such things wouldn't come into play, and states' rights would prevail.

Sandifer, a Seneca Republican, doesn't like the new bulbs - and he especially doesn't like government telling consumers what they can't buy after the end of the year. He said it's "an infringement by the feds on our 10th amendment rights."

That's the amendment that says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

He's not alone in his belief that Washington has gone too far with the 2007 energy law that effectively takes incandescent light bulbs off the market in January by setting new standards the traditional bulbs can't meet.

Bills similar to Sandifer's have been introduced in three other states - Texas, Georgia and Minnesota - said Glen Andersen, energy program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

And U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is the lead co-sponsor of federal legislation, the Better Use of Light Bulbs (B.U.L.B.) bill, introduced last month, which would repeal the new light bulb standards.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.

Replacing one incandescent light with an EnergyStar-approved bulb such as a CFL in every home in America would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, according to the EPA. It also would save $600 million in energy costs and prevent the release of 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in a year.

S.C. is in the position of having the only independent manufacturer of incandescent light bulbs in the nation, said Ray M. Schlosser, owner of American Light Bulb Mfg. Co. in Mullins.

Most of the incandescent light bulbs used in the U.S. are made in China, which also makes 98 percent of the CFL bulbs on the shelves in American stores, he said.

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