The Department of Energy on Wednesday is proposing to amend the definition of showerheads to allow increased water flow, bypassing a 28-year-old water conservation standard, after repeated complaints by the president about low-flow toilets and showers.
“You turn on the shower, if you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly,” Trump said while giving remarks at a Whirlpool Corporation manufacturing plant in Ohio on August 6.
Passed as part of a overwhelmingly bipartisan energy bill and signed into law in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, the federal regulation prohibits showerheads and other appliances like faucets from exceeding 2.5 gallons per minute, and in 2011, the Obama administration determined that products with multiple showerheads constituted a single appliance.
The Department of Energy is now proposing to roll back that rule to assert that each showerhead can separately reach the 2.5 gallon limit and should not be considered as one system together.
“The existing showerhead standard has spurred manufacturers to make devices that are more satisfying while using less water,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of Appliance Standards Awareness Project, in a statement. “That reduces our water bills, and it also reduces our energy use.”
The move by the Trump administration comes when it would seemingly have more important things to deal with amid the Covid-19 pandemic and as western states in the U.S. are in the grips of a megadrought that began in 2000, which a recent paper in Science said may be the first that’s caused by humans.
While complaining about the regulation on the White House’s South Lawn in July, Trump claimed, “And in many places, in most places of the country, water is not a problem. They don’t know what to do with it. It’s called ‘rain.’ They don’t have a problem.”
“So showerhead, you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump also said 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.”
Three-quarters. That’s how many showerheads today use 20% less water than the maximum allowed by the current regulation, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.
Through Trump’s presidency, the administration has rolled back environmental regulations, though recent changes have been made more stark amid the coronavirus outbreak. With risks of severe complications rising in people living in communities with poorer air quality, the administration has curtailed restrictions on mercury and other toxins produced by oil and coal power plants, as well as lower the average miles per gallon required for automakers’ fleets.