House approves phaseout of mercury-containing
fluorescent bulbs

 

STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy to phase out the sale of fluorescent lightbulbs.

Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which is released when they are broken or when they are disposed of in landfills. While they were introduced as an energy-efficient step up from incandescent light bulbs, LEDs are significantly more efficient, much longer lasting, widely available, cost less to own and operate and do not contain mercury.

“Compact fluorescents are kind of the cassette tape or 8-track of light bulbs, except they are worse than just outdated – they come with a side of dangerous mercury,” said Representative Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston). “They can’t hold a candle to the efficiency of the LEDs that are available now. There’s no reason to subject ourselves and the environment to the risks of bulbs that contain mercury when such better alternatives are so easily available.”

Under the bill (2023-H 5550A), after Jan. 1, 2024, it would be illegal to sell most compact fluorescent lightbulbs in Rhode Island. A year later, the sale of pin-based and linear fluorescent bulbs would become illegal. The bill contains exceptions for many technical and specialty applications. It would not require anyone to dispose of or stop using any bulbs they already possess.

The legislation now goes to the Senate.

According to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, by 2030, Rhode Island households and businesses would save $20 million annually on their utility bills from transitioning from common fluorescent bulbs to LEDs. By 2050, this would amount to $260 million in savings cumulatively.

Under the bill, by 2050, Rhode Island could avoid the release of 136,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of 30,264 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year. It could also avoid 35 pounds of mercury waste, enough to contaminate approximately 1.75 billion gallons of water.

Recycling rates for fluorescent bulbs are low, resulting in most being discarded in landfills, and eventually leaching mercury into the environment. Once it reaches water bodies, it bioaccumulates in marine animals. Mercury contamination in seafood is the leading cause of human mercury exposure.


The Republican National Convention night session is starting, but there are already plenty of headlines from its first day. Former President Trump picked Ohio Senator JD Vance as his running mate and he was officially nominated on the convention floor. Vance was elected to the Senate in 2022, and represents a key swing state in the 2024 race.        Congress is gearing up for a multi-committee investigation into the attempted assassination of Donald Trump. House Oversight Committee James Comer announced Monday Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle will appear at a public hearing Monday, as the agency is facing intense scrutiny following the shooting. Members will also be briefed by Secret Service.        President Biden will sit down for a one-on-one interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt today. This planned interview comes after the assassination attempt on former President Trump over the weekend. Biden has been under growing scrutiny from Democrats over his age and whether he can defeat Trump in November.        Lots of Houston-area residents are still without power after Hurricane Beryl slammed Texas last week. As of last check, over 180-thousand customers were without electricity. CenterPoint Energy has restored power to around one-point-nine-million people since the storm hit, or about 85-percent of those affected by outages.        The attorney for the armorer on the set of the movie Rust is filing a motion for her release from jail. Just hours after the judge in New Mexico threw out the case against Alec Baldwin Friday, the lawyer for Hanna Gutierrez-Reed said she should be released on the same grounds. Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death in 2021 of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the movie set.        The majority of Americans say inflation is a "very serious problem." That's according to a recent YouGov poll, which found that voters are more likely to approve of Donald Trump's handling of the issue rather than President Biden's. The survey also found that for Democrats, the most serious issues that the country faces are gun violence and climate change.