President Joe Biden may lack the authority to reach into your shower and turn the dial down in order to save water. Still, he is doing all he can to declare war on high-pressure showerheads.
The Department of Energy has proposed a regulatory change reversing a Trump measure that allowed more powerful showers. The language used to defend the action invokes climate change as well as water conservation as justifications.
This long regulatory saga started with the 1992 Energy Policy Act. Slipped into this massive energy bill were a few water-related provisions, most regrettably the mandate for those awful low-flush toilets but also a 2.5-gallons-per-minute water limit for showerheads. But the statute was unclear how the law applied to fixtures with more than one shower head. Would the 2.5-gallons-per-minute maximum apply to each nozzle or the entire unit?
For the next 20 years, the former interpretation applied, thus multihead showers that exceeded 2.5 gallons per minute overall remained on the market for the relative few consumers who wanted them.
Then, in 2013, an Obama DOE regulation eliminated what it characterized as a loophole, clarifying that the entire shower, no matter how many nozzles, could not exceed 2.5 gallons per minute in total.
President Donald Trump disagreed, no doubt our only president to own thousands of showers given all his hotels! Hyperbole over weak showers became a punch line at many of his rallies. “If you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly,” he once said. His DOE reversed Obama’s change in December 2020.
Now, the Biden DOE has initiated the process of repealing the Trump revision. It would revert back to the Obama 2.5-gallons-per-minute overall cap.
Supporters of the Biden proposal, including an army of efficiency activists, argue that very few people actually want showers blasting more than 2.5 gallons per minute. But they also argue that if Trump’s change is allowed to stand, it would lead to dangerous increases in water use. Some activists even invoke the drought out west as a cause for the tighter limit.
Trade associations representing showerhead makers also opposed the Trump measure and now support Biden’s revision. But manufacturers do so out of self-interest — they had stopped making the high-volume showers and don’t want to undertake the cost of reintroducing them. Nor do they want to risk losing even a little bit of market share to any competitor who does. Several manufacturers also strive to convey a green image and think their support for water restrictions will burnish it. Overall, the freedom of showers is pro-consumer, not pro-business.
Read the full article at The Washington Examiner.