The Trump administration only has five weeks remaining, but officials throughout the executive branch are hardly taking a passive approach to the outgoing president's preferences. Reuters reported late yesterday, for example, on a new regulatory policy designed to make Donald Trump happy.
The U.S. Energy Department on Tuesday finalized two rules easing energy standards on consumer fixtures and appliances, including one on shower heads after President Donald Trump complained some showers don't adequately rinse his hair. The rules are part of Trump's last-minute efforts to roll back rules that limit production or consumption of oil, gas and coal as part of his "energy dominance" policy.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane to review how we reached this exceedingly silly point.
In January, as the U.S. House prepared to send articles of presidential impeachment to the U.S. Senate, 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 in July. "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 in August at a Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Ohio.
This wasn't just idle chatter. As the president whined, his administration moved forward with plans to abandon bipartisan standards created by the Bush/Quayle team nearly three decades ago.
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." The same article explained the practical implications of the change:
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 serves 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.