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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

MN turns out the light on fluorescent bulbs

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024   

Walk through a store or schools, and there's a chance the overhead lighting will come from long fluorescent tubes. Minnesota is taking steps to phase out those bulbs that experts say are harmful to the environment and human health.

In the spring legislative session, Minnesota became the latest state to ban the sale of fluorescent bulbs starting in 2025. The end date for more specialized bulbs is January 2026. Supporters of the ban say people already have a lot of safer LED options at their fingertips.

Eric Fowler, senior policy associate of buildings with Fresh Energy, said remaining fluorescent products still on the market pose hidden dangers.

"We're going to keep the market moving in the direction it's already going and transition away from these lights that, at this point, are unnecessarily hazardous, fragile glass tubes with toxic mercury," he explained.

Legislative researchers say despite recycling requirements for fluorescent products, they still end up accidentally broken or thrown away. That exposes custodial staff, waste workers and others to mercury, a well-known toxin that's especially harmful to pregnant people and children. Backers say the law change, passed with bipartisan support, also paves the way for more energy efficiency.

Josh McClenney, state policy associate for the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, has been tracking the passage of these laws around the country. He said while the LED bulb might be a more expensive purchase, businesses will find them to be valuable over time through energy bill savings.

"For the most common type of LED replacement, it's just about .11 more expensive and it pays itself back in less than a month," said McClenney.

Fresh Energy said switching from fluorescent to LED bulbs could save Minnesota close to 800 gigawatts of electricity in a year, avoiding 650,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

People who buy fluorescent bulbs before the state's end date will still be able to use them until they burn out.

Disclosure: Fresh Energy contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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