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Watt choice?: D.C. dim bulbs

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Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Miss those banned 100- and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs? Well, say goodbye to the more popular 60- and 40-watt bulbs in 2014.

As of Jan. 1, it's illegal to manufacture or import the lower-watt incandescent bulbs in the United States under a 2007 federal law that sets strict minimum efficiency standards based not on any market reality, or even practicality, but on the whimsy of government.

And this, when the nation's energy efficiency has improved dramatically over the past six decades without light bulb diktats. Reports the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “energy intensity has been declining steadily since the early 1970s and continues to decline in the EIA's long-term projection.”

Consumers should be outraged by the bulb ban. But sadly, most probably won't notice until all the traditional incandescent bulbs are gone.

That leaves them with the choice of twisty compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which all but require a hazmat team to clean up the mercury if they break, and LED bulbs.

And prepare for the sticker shock. Whereas a six pack of 60-watt incandescents typically sells for under $5, a same-size pack of 60-watt LEDs sells for more than $77, Fox News reports. Oh, and for the record, serious questions are emerging about the touted better longevity of LEDs.

At issue is not just light bulbs but the federal government's unrelenting intrusion into consumer choices, and private lives, where it has no warrant beyond the empty-minded dictates of dim bulbs in Washington.

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