A Rule for Cleaner Dishes

Wall Street Journal cites CEI’s General Counsel Sam Kazman on U.S. Department of Energy final rule on dishwashers.

If a camel is a horse designed by committee, Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), says today’s low-performance dishwashers must have been designed by regulators who eat out. Regulations on energy and water usage—tightened in 2013 by the Obama Administration—mean that dishwashers now take at least two hours to complete a full wash cycle. Dishes may still emerge with pieces of last night’s lasagna baked on.

Two years ago CEI petitioned the Energy Department to allow dishwashers that would reduce the average cycle to one hour from two, while also giving better performance. CEI argued that if the aim of the regulation was to conserve water and energy, it’s unlikely they achieved their purpose. People responded to poor dishwasher performance by pre-rinsing each dish before putting it through their washers, wasting more water, or running their dishwashers twice, wasting water and energy.

The revised DOE rule is not peace in the Middle East or a Covid-19 vaccine. But it is an example of how common-sense deregulation can deliver real benefits for the public. Judging from the public comments in support of the proposed rule, we’d bet most Americans will be delighted to learn they will soon be able to buy dishwashers worthy of the name.

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