I think the best explanation is that it's about crony capitalism (apparently the only kind of economics liberals seem to like) pushing higher margin bulbs at the expense of Americans.


Regulation: The EPA thinks it's worth spending billions of dollars each year to reduce already minuscule amounts of mercury in the outside air. So why is it trying to shove mercury-laced fluorescent bulbs into everyone's homes?

When the EPA announced its new air pollution rules this week — designed to reduce power plant emissions of mercury and other to gases — Administrator Lisa Jackson blogged that:

"Mercury is a neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children, and emissions of mercury and other air toxics have been linked to damage to developing nervous systems, respiratory illnesses and other diseases."

At $10 billion a year, complying with the new rules won't come cheap, and that assumes the EPA's low-ball estimate comes true. According to the coal industry, this is the most expensive rule the EPA's ever imposed.

Fear not, since Jackson claims the "health and economic benefits" will be many times greater than the costs.

But here's the curious thing: While whipping up fear about mercury in the outdoors, the EPA is actively downplaying mercury's health risks when it comes out of fluorescent bulbs inside people's homes.

In a pamphlet extolling the virtues of the looming federal ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs, the EPA says it's a "myth" that the mercury used in compact fluorescent lights is "dangerous in your home."

"There's no evidence," the brochure says, that "brief exposure to the mercury in a broken bulb presents a health risk to you or your family." Just air out the room, sweep up the debris into a jar and you're fine.

Truth is there's no meaningful health risk from either the bulbs or the power plants. As a 2004 paper published by the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution noted, "mercury exposure at current levels is unlikely to be causing harm."

What both have in common, however, is that they advance the EPA's control of our lives.

On the one hand, it wants to decide how we light our homes to force energy savings. On the other, it wants to shove the country off coal to reduce global warming.

So what if it has to speak out of both sides of its mouth on mercury risks?

In the end, the real risk to the nation's health isn't from minute traces of mercury coming out of smokestacks or broken CFLs. It's from the economy-crushing mandates pouring forth from the EPA.