Before the advent of the modern environmental movement, National Review founder Bill Buckley used to proclaim with a glint in his eye that a liberal is someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the temperature of the water. Man, oh, man, was he right. The liberals’ environmental agenda brought Buckley’s satirical thrust uncomfortably close to reality. See, for example, the Wall Street Journal article “A water fight over luxury showers.” Stephen Power reported in 2010:
Gene Goforth sells showerheads–big ones, like the Raindance Imperial 600 AIR. Selling for as much as $5,457, it has a 24-inch spray face, 358 no-clog channels and a triple-massage option. “You can just stand under it, and it helps your psyche,” says Mr. Goforth, who has one in his home.
Now, Mr. Goforth is in a lather over the federal government’s tough new line on water-hogging showerheads, part of a new effort to enforce energy- and water-use regulations. “Leave my shower alone,” Mr. Goforth recently wrote in a letter to the Department of Energy.
Regulators are going after some of the luxury shower fixtures that took off in the housing boom. Many have multiple nozzles, cost thousands of dollars and emit as many as 12 gallons of water a minute. In May, the DOE stunned the plumbing-products industry when it said it would adopt a strict definition of the term “showerhead” in enforcing standards that have been on the books–but largely unenforced–for nearly 20 years.
The Journal explained in the handy sidebar to the story that the federal maximum for a showerhead is 2.5 gallons per minute, at 80 pounds per square inch.
And that’s not all. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. In 1994 the implementing regulations went into effect, requiring that all residential toilets be manufactured using a 1.6-gallons-per-flush standard. On the tenth anniversary of the regulations, American Standard made an important announcement: “today the worry-free 1.6-gallon toilet is becoming a reality.”
The busybodies of the administrative state have remained hard at work. In December 2007, Congress enacted an energy bill that, among many, many other things, forced us to buy a new kind of light bulb. As Andrew Ferguson explained in “A nation of dim bulbs,” environmental enthusiasts didn’t like the light bulbs we were using. They reasoned, therefore, that we shouldn’t be allowed to have them.
The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush. President Bush extolled the energy bill in a statement at the Department of Energy. For reasons that Ferguson touched on, Bush acknowledged the light bulb provision a bit circumspectly: “The bill…includes revisions to improve energy efficiency in lighting and appliances.” After summarizing the bill, he stated: “With these steps, particularly in the bill I’m about to sign, we’re going to help American consumers a lot.” And he thanked Congress: “I appreciate the fact that we’ve worked together, that we can show what’s possible in addressing the big issues facing our nation.”
In the NR article “Dim idea,” Rob Long turned to the creeping hand of the federal government in the residential bathroom. Rob drew on his personal experience to address the subject in the style that Mark Twain brought to his humorous essays. It’s a wonderful essay, but Rob failed to take note of the regulations that already governed the American toilet. Referring to his importation of the perfect toilet he discovered on a trip to Japan, he concluded:
In the Battle of the Bathroom, the environmental bureaucrats have the optimistic hedonists on the run. They’ve taken our bulbs and our rain-showers, so it’s just a matter of time before they focus their regulatory powers on my toilet, with its delightfully surprising — but water-wasteful — nozzles and jets. This, perhaps, is where we need to take our (seated) stand. This is the line they must not cross. When they come to me with their regulations and federal guidelines, I will take a page from the National Rifle Association and say, “From my cold, dead . . .”
Well, you get the idea.
Actually, the time to take a page had long since come. The administrative state has inserted its big paws into our houses, from the toilet bowl to the light socket. Now if it would just stretch those paws from the one to the other at the same time, we might get somewhere.
Adding to his bid for a new spot on Mount Rushmore, President Trump is turning back the clock to happier days. The editors of the Washington Examiner review the relevant history and praise President Trump for his proposed undoing of Obama’s showerhead regulations in a fantastic editorial they rightly title “The petty tyrants in your shower.”