It sounded like an idle riff.
But in December, as his administration was getting ready to depart, Trump’s Energy Department announced it had changed the rules for shower heads. The amount of water used in a shower was still capped at 2.5 gallons per minute. But the agency gave a new interpretation of the cap, saying water use would be measured per shower head instead of per shower stall. Many newer shower stalls have multiple shower heads. So three shower heads in one stall, for example, could allow for 7.5 gallons per minute.
The victory was short-lived.
The Energy Department, now under President Biden’s administration, said Friday it plans to scrap the new shower-head rule interpretation and go back to the old one.
It will take a few months, but it appears that Trump’s drenching shower heads will soon be gone.
In fact, it’s unclear whether any manufacturer even bothered to produce shower heads matching the Trump administration guidelines because it was clear early on that a new administration would probably reverse course.
Trump’s push for wetter showers was curious — and part of a larger, late effort by his administration to roll back water and energy conservation rules for dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.
He also garnered attention for his complaints about toilets that need to be flushed “10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.”
He blamed water-efficiency standards for that problem, too.
Trump officials described it all as cutting regulatory burdens and increasing choices for consumers.
But consumers were not asking for these changes.
Manufacturers — usually happy to avoid government oversight — also mostly opposed the changes. They said there was no need. They didn’t think it was something consumers actually wanted. Environmental advocacy groups said the changes were costly and wasteful.
“The president’s hyperbole did him in on this,” said Ed Osann, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The problems that he was describing didn’t line up with anybody’s experience.”
Other Trump-era rule changes to create new standards for short-cycle dishwashers and clothes washers — essentially freeing them from caps on energy and water use — are also under attack. Environmental groups sued to block the rules. Those lawsuits have been put on holding pending action by Biden’s Energy Department, which has signaled it plans to eliminate those Trump-era changes, too.
The Energy Department is also proposing to remove a new, Trump-era definition for a shower “body spray,” which allowed for another way around water conservation rules.
It was Trump’s complaints about toilets, though, that drew some of the biggest reactions, from his supporters and critics.
Yet despite all the toilet talk, Trump’s administration failed to propose a new standard.