Despite crises, Trump turns his attention to showerhead regulations

There's no reason to change showerhead regulations that have existed for decades. Trump, who should have other things on this mind, doesn't seem to care.
Image: showerhead
If you want to protect dry skin, you're probably showering the wrong way, doctors say.featurepics.com
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By Steve Benen

In January, as the U.S. House prepared to send articles of presidential impeachment to the U.S. Senate, Donald Trump headlined a campaign rally in Wisconsin where he reflected on the issue that was foremost on his mind: water, or more specifically, household devices that use water.

The president specifically complained about dishwashers, toilets, and showerheads that only provide a "drip, drip, drip." Trump added that modern showerheads are inadequate when washing what he described as his "beautiful head of hair."

Much of the Republican's rhetoric about appliances was demonstrably wrong, but as time progressed, his focus didn't change, even as the coronavirus pandemic intensified. "So showerheads -- you take a shower, the water doesn't come out," Trump said at a White House event last month. "You want to wash your hands, the water doesn't come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair -- I don't know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect." He peddled similar rhetoric last week at a Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Ohio.

As Bloomberg News reported yesterday that for the Trump administration, this wasn't just idle chatter.

The Energy Department proposed easing water efficiency requirements for shower heads Wednesday following multiple complaints from President Donald Trump about how low water flow is impeding his ability to properly wash his hair. The plan would allow manufacturers to bypass a 2.5 gallon-per-minute maximum flow rate set by Congress in the 1990s.

The Associated Press had a related report, noting that consumer and conservation groups believe changing the existing standards is "silly, unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the West bakes through a historic two-decade-long megadrought."

Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads shouldn't pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute (9.5 liters). As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to what comes out in total. So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out between all four. The new proposal Wednesday would allow each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the overall showerhead. With four or five or more nozzles, "you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom," said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

There is no reason to do this. Indeed, there's no evidence of public demand for such a change, and it would serve no policy purpose to abandon the existing standards.

But in an era of post-policy Republican governance, this is how Trump and his team operate.