A bit of news from the end of last week. The U.S. Congress slipped in a provision to the omnibus spending package, passed last Friday, that strips funding for the Department of Energy to enforce a more efficient standard for light bulbs. The Los Angeles Times has a few notable quotes from our elected representatives:

”This is an early Christmas present for all Americans,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). “It restores the freedom, at least temporarily, for you to choose the light bulbs you want to illuminate your home.”

That would be the same Joe Barton that apologized to Tony Hayward about the U.S.’s response to BP after the Gulf Oil spill. Representative Ted Poe, also of Texas, weighs in:

“Since the federal government has taken the power to choose away from Americans, [consumers have been] flocking to their local Wal-Marts to hoard the last of the incandescent bulbs.”

Somehow, through the absurdity of American politics, incandescent light bulbs have attained the same fervor-inducing status as assault rifles and extended magazines.

The now defunct standards wouldn’t have eliminated the incandescent bulb – they would have only required bulbs to become 30% more efficient, meaning you could still have an incandescent bulb. Only it would be better than the one you can stockpile from your Wal-Mart today.

Lighting is a major source of energy consumption – both in homes and in businesses – so it makes sense to introduce more efficient lighting standards that would help many Americans save energy and money, either in their homes or their businesses.

Not to mention the time and money light bulb manufacturers have spent developing more efficient light bulbs or retooling manufacturing lines. Regulatory uncertainty like this costs people real money.

Looks like it will be up to utilities, local, and state governments to take the lead.