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Texas light bulb bill would skirt federal plan

Texas could soon be in a position to turn the lights off on a federal plan to phase out certain light bulbs.

State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.

The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas -- and sold in this state -- avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year.

"Let there be light," state Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, wrote on Facebook after the bill passed. "It will allow the continued manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in Texas, even after the federal ban goes into effect. ... It's a good day for Texas."

Not everyone agrees.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group, is calling on Perry to veto the bill.

"The Texas legislation is designed to showcase the state's independence," said Bob Keefe, senior press secretary with the council. "But what it really shows off is how some politicians in the Lone Star State will do anything to score political points -- even if it means echoing misinformation and wasting time and money passing legislation that can't practically be implemented and isn't in the best interest of constituents."

Perry has until Sunday to veto bills, sign them into law or let them become law without his signature.

Lavender has described his House Bill 2510 as a common-sense bill.

"The 'new and improved' compact fluorescent light bulbs don't work as promised, are significantly more expensive as are the LEDs and have environmental and disposal problems due to the mercury they contain," according to a statement from his office.

The goal of the bill is to make incandescent light bulbs manufactured in Texas -- that are sold in Texas and don't leave the state -- not subject to federal law or federal rules. Such a bulb would have to have "Made in Texas" clearly imprinted somewhere on it. There are no estimates of how many incandescent light bulbs are manufactured in Texas.

If the bill becomes law, it would go into effect Jan. 1 and would apply to light bulbs made from that day forward.

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