Skip to comments.How GE’s green lobbying is killing U.S. factory jobs
Posted on 08/28/2009 1:50:39 AM PDT by kingattax
Government did us in, says Dwayne Madigan, whose job will terminate when General Electric closes one its factory next July.
Madigan makes a product that will soon be illegal to sell in the U.S.: a regular incandescent bulb. Two years ago, his employer, GE, lobbied in favor of the law that will outlaw the bulbs.
Madigans colleagues, waiting for their evening shift to begin, all know that GE is replacing the incandescent for now with compact fluorescents bulbs, which GE manufactures in China.
Last month, GE announced it will close the Winchester Bulb Plant 80 miles west of Washington, D.C., in Virginia. As a result, 200 men and women will lose their jobs. GE is also shuttering incandescent factories in Ohio and Kentucky, axing another 200 jobs.
GE blamed environmental regulations for the closing. The first paragraph of the companys July 23 news release said:
A variety of energy regulations that establish lighting-efficiency standards are being implemented in the U.S. and other countries, in some cases this year, and will soon make the familiar lighting products produced at the Winchester plant obsolete.
The U.S. legislation in question was a provision in the 2007 energy bill that required all bulbs sold in the U.S. beginning in 2012 for some wattages to meet high efficiency standards.
Given the steady decline of U.S. manufacturing, this factory was going to close sooner or later, anyway. Workers tell me they were happy when they heard in June that the factory was staying open at least through mid-2011 a plan GE abandoned the next month.
But the lightbulb law is clearly the main driver in closing this factory. After all, the product they make here will be contraband by 2014.
That was the nail in the coffin, Madigan says.
These men, waiting in the shade in front of the employees entrance to the plant on a hot afternoon, all know another pertinent fact about the lightbulb law that is killing their jobs: GE lobbied in favor of it.
Why did GE, founded by Thomas Edison, lobby to kill the incandescent lightbulb?
The company said in 2007 it wanted to make sure it was working under a single federal efficiency standard, rather than a patchwork of state regulations. GE also touts its compact fluorescents as one of the green products in its ecomagination initiative.
Workers dont buy the green arguments, pointing to the mercury gas thats in the fluorescents. Its illegal to dump mercury in the river, but not in the landfill, two of them say in unison (its become a dark joke at the factory).
Robert Pifer, who will also be laid off in July if he doesnt find a new job by then, has an explanation for GEs support of the lightbulb law and its shift to the more expensive fluorescents: Are they not just trying to force-feed people stuff they dont want to buy?
So, GE gets environmentalist brownie points for selling clean lightbulbs, and they also get to charge more for them. But theres another advantage: They save on labor with fluorescents because they make the fluorescents in China.
Not only are wages lower there, but so are the regulatory burdens, both environmental and labor. The Times of London recently reported that large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
CFLs, however, are probably not the lightbulb of the future. Right before it started lobbying for a federal lightbulb law, GE announced that it would start making high-efficiency incandescents by 2010. I could not get GE management to tell me where the high-efficiency incandescents will be manufactured, but all signs suggest it wont be in Winchester.
GE spokesman Peter OToole responded by pointing out GE has relocated its manufacturing of Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters to Kentucky, from China. They promise 400 new green-collar jobs, offsetting the loss of the lightbulb jobs but not in Winchester.
I ask the men what they plan to do when the factory closes down. Some say they will retire. Others can only shrug their shoulders. Pifer says hell just have to take a job at less than half of what he currently makes.
I live paycheck to paycheck, Pifer tells me. He has a son and he owns a house nearby, he says. So what am I going to do when Im earning $11 an hour?
These men are the victims of the green revolution a revolution their employer is leading.
I’m not surprised RATS are baning bulbs but just when was this law passed and how?
This law pisses me off as much as anything. It is emblematic of how the govt wants to control every aspect of how we live, and how the govt is not willing to allow the free market to operate normally, and allow consumers to select the bulb of THEIR CHOICE.
But being relatively open-minded, even in this age of the obamanation, I decided to buy a couple of the new squiggly bulbs and put them in the fixture in my kitchen for a test run.
Guess what? They suck! they are clearly inferior to what we are accustomed to.
And to answer your question of how this law was passed, it is my understanding that the bill was signed into law by george bush, the very same potus who gave us the first bailout- who went against free market prinicples to save the free market.
What a bunch of small-minded jerks we have had in DC.
It was run through as one of the first orders of business of the then-new Democrat Congress of 2007 - part of an energy bill.
Bush signed it for various reasons, but the Democrat Congress is to blame.
Want to bet these guys are union and perennially vote for Democrats?
Like the low-flow toilets, I suspect the New Green bulb and the Mercury toxin will be repealed when common sense returns to the US....if it ever does. Also a prime example of bills so massive, 'little things' like killing industry here and shipping jobs to China get passed.
I understand it was the Dhimmi majority in Congress who wrote the law and urged it to be passed, but that doesnt take the potus off the hook for failing to veto it, just like he isnt off the hook for siging and urging the first bailout bill.
An image keeps popping into my mind of an attitude ridden “youth”, with pants down around his *ss, standing in my living room, looking into my lamp shades and checking out my thermostat setting! (shutter)
You know, if somebody walked into a metropolitan skyscraper and ‘accidentally’ broke one of these compact fluorescent bulbs on the floor in front of the guard station - precipitating the evacuation of the entire building due to “chemical hazards” - then it might just make an important point to this nation.
GE is a monopoly on the grandest scale. Not only is the countryside, which used to be peaceful and quite beautiful, completely spoiled by these obscene, unnatural behemouths, but the massive transmission lines that connect them to the grid are the MOST ugly electrical lines in history. And they go everywhere and they make noise.
Not one word from the Enviro Nazis on the dead migratory birds, or the gross inefficiency and instability these things inflict on the grid. (GE is pure evil)
IIRC, that energy bill passed with a comfortably veto proof majority in both houses.
What’s the point of vetoing that?
Yeah those self flushing toilets are one of my pet peeves. They are relly nasty when they start flushing when you are still sitting on them. I work at an airport so I know what you mean. What a waste! It’s a sad commentary on the general public when something like this is installed because people apparently can’t remember to flush after they go.
ge has been in bed with the unions for the last 50 years.
What’s the point of having a representative republic when the oligarchs sell out the citizens?
Can you give me one instance of Bush standing up to the Dhimmi congress?
He shocked us by announcing he wanted to contract port security to a dubai company, he wanted harriet Miers on the SCOTUS, he paved the way for obamanaism by urging the first bailout bill, gave us no child left behind, and other than his war on terrorism *which I completely support* he was quite ineffective and HUGELY DISAPPOINTING as potus.
If the idiots would just let us build clean, energy efficient Nuclear Power plants and let us build safe storage facilities for the spent fuel, then we could keep the good light bulbs.
Personally I like the CFLs if they’re high quality (which is another issue) but the stupidity surrounding this issue is astounding.
Market forces should dictate the extinction if the incandescent bulb, not eco regulations. The very same regulations that are killing the incandescent bulbs are sending manufacture of CFLs to China meaning we can’t get anything but the cheap CFLs which really suck.
And now we have the totally inane introduction of the self-dispensing paper towel and soap dispensers. Good grief, how helpless do they think we are. There is often a disgusting pool of wasted soap on the counter.
Here we are in the 21st century, and now that I’ve tried the new light bulbs (they are still in my kitchen fixture) I am sadly convinced that our standard of living is being lowered due to the flat earth no growth environmental weenies and the politicians who are in their wallet pocket.
This light bulb issue is the real life example of how what was once the highest standard of living is being co-opted by the a-holes who are trying to rule our life.
And I havent even touched on the fact these new squiggly bulbs contain mercury- so we will soon have that element in every room in the home- what happened to all the dire warnings about how harmful mercury is and how we need to be careful about mercury-laced tuna? The whole green movement thing is a money-making sham.
We just moved into a house. The previous owners (who were liberals) put the fluorescents bulbs in every ceiling fixture in the house. The difference in heat the bulbs produce has turned all the fixtures a most unwholesome shade of yellow AND almost no light. We have to replace every single fixture.
Be forewarned, some fabrics and some plastics respond very badly to the fluorescents bulbs.
In addition I hate the light. We’ve been stocking up on the other kind of bulbs.