Congress To Reconsider Ban on High Capacity Toilets

Washington, DC, July 27, 1999 – Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Ben Lieberman, policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), called for choice in bathroom fixtures instead of government mandates. “The issue is not whether low flush toilets are better or worse than high flush toilets,” Lieberman stated. “The real issue is who should get to decide such things – individual consumers or special interests.”

A federal law mandating low flow toilets passed in 1992 with little notice as part of the Energy Policy Act. As consumers began to buy new homes or refurbish their bathrooms, however, the backlash against these water-stingy toilets began. Intended as part of the green crusade for water conservation, the low flush toilets quickly created problems for consumers and homeowners, who complained that they frequently needed to be flushed multiple times per use and clogged far more often than older models – often creating unpleasant consequences.

As a response to the widespread consumer dissatisfaction, Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) recently introduced legislation to repeal this mandate – HR 623, The Plumbing Standards Improvement Act. The bill would repeal the mandates on toilet capacity, and get the U.S. government out of the plumbing business – allowing Americans to buy whatever kind of bathroom appliances they want.

While underperforming toilets may not be the most pressing item on Congress’ agenda, the issue has important implications, “A federal government that believes it has the right, the need, and quite frankly the competence to set design standards for toilets, is a government losing sight of its limits, and its limitations,” said Lieberman. “A Congress that truly listens to the people and admits its mistake by passing HR 623 would be taking a large step towards good government.”

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.