After ongoing complaining and bellyaching about showerheads with weak water flow, President Trump finally got what he wanted. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy finalized a rollback of water efficiency standards that limited household showerheads to a maximum 2.5 gallon-per-minute flow rate.
The rule, which dates back to 1992, was updated by the Obama administration to ensure that fancy, multi-nozzle shower fixtures were included in the limit — rather than allowing each nozzle or showerhead a 2.5 gallon-per-minute flow rate, the rule dictated that the limit applies to the overall fixture.
"Thanks to the standards, consumers have access to showerheads that not only...achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, but also save consumers money by reducing energy and water consumption," David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports, said in a statement, also noting that "there is no need to change current showerhead standards."
So, of course, Trump did.
The move is certainly characteristic for the Trump administration. The past four years have been infinitely frustrating for conservationists and anyone concerned about the climate crisis, as the president set forth to undo restrictions on wastewater disposal, coal ash, fuel efficiency, and climate change assessments.
But this particular rollback seems weirdly personal because of President Trump's series of bizarre and seemingly random comments about his hair-washing difficulties. "So, showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn't come out," the president 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."
Officially, though, a White House statement attempts to justify the new ruling as an issue of "reducing regulatory burdens" and offering consumers the ability to "choose products that are best suited to meet their individual needs and the needs of their families."
It's hard to believe the rollback was made with Americans in mind. In addition to showerheads, Trump has made similarly ridiculous statements about appliances like energy-saving lightbulbs, dishwashers, sinks, and toilets. And the most recent ruling was also accompanied by one exempting washers and dryers from energy-saving standards.
"Changing the rules to address one of President Trump's pet peeves is simply silly," Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said in a statement, adding that the latest rollbacks "allow for products that needlessly waste energy and water, are ridiculous and out of step with the climate crisis and the long-term drought facing much of the country. The Biden administration can and should promptly reverse them."