From the start of his presidency, President Trump hasn't been too keen on maintaining environmental protections. On Wednesday, the Trump administration proposed changes to showerhead regulations. The move to undermine conservation efforts tracks with the rest of the Trump administration's actions, but these changes in particular are prompted by Trump's own petty complaints about showering. It may seem like a nonissue, but the adjustments could have a big impact on states already facing droughts.
The new proposal from the Department of Energy comes after Trump made comments about showering at an event in July about rolling back regulations. Trump said, "Showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. 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."
Most people don't realize that their showerheads' flow is regulated by the government. Under a federal law implemented in 1992, new showerheads can't pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. And according to the Associated Press, as shower fixtures with multiple nozzles came out, the law was further adjusted by the Obama administration to apply to the total amount of water released, rather than to each nozzle. So a showerhead with multiple nozzles still has to abide by the 2.5 gallon rule between all of the nozzles.
On the surface, Trump's attempts to change the law seem laughable. Because, seriously, who even cares enough to go through all that effort? In an email to The Hill, DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes defended the proposal, stating, "If adopted, this rule would undo the action of the previous administration and return to congressional intent, allowing Americans — not Washington bureaucrats — to choose what kind of showerheads they have in their homes."
The administration may try to frame this proposal as beneficial for all Americans, but consumer groups point out that isn't the case. In a blog post, Andrew DeLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, pointed out that only a few months ago, a study found that "vast region of the western United States, extending from California, Arizona, and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho, is in the grips of the first climate change-induced megadrought.”
In an email, DeLaski told NBC News that most people do just fine with low-flow showerheads and said that the overall proposal is "silly." "The country has serious problems," he said, "a pandemic, long-term serious drought throughout much of the West, and climate change, to name just a few. For the president to be fussing about showerheads is just ridiculous."
"Given all the excellent performing showerheads on the market and the staff at his disposal, you'd think the president could arrange to have a decent showerhead installed at the White House," DeLaski added.
The proposal may seem like something that shouldn't get any attention. But it's clear that something as seemingly small as changing showerhead regulations could have a big impact. And most worryingly, the DOE's proposal is part of a much larger trend of the Trump administration doing away with environmental regulations. Just this year alone, the administration rolled back Obama-era water protections and faced a lawsuit from California after fulfilling a campaign promise to divert water to California farmers. Even this week, it announced plans to lessen restrictions on methane release.