by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
At the Reason blog, Sam Rutzick reports:
In October, Trump’s Department of Energy finalized a rule establishing a new product class for residential dishwashers that will have a normal cycle time of up to one hour and that can use five gallons of water per cycle. Those rules effectively roll back an Obama-era rule limiting standard dishwashers to use no more than 3.1 gallons of water per cycle.
That limit forced dishwasher companies to adjust their products’ cycle lengths. And the supposedly more efficient but less useful dishwashers have been a punchline at Trump’s rallies for years.
“Anybody have a new dishwasher?” [Trump would ask] “I’m sorry for that, it’s worthless. They give you so little water….You end up using it 10 times…then you take them out and do them the old-fashioned way, right?” …
Rutzick observes that this is a much needed reform:
Trump’s complaints reflect a frustrating reality. According to data from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a pro-market think tank, the average dishwasher cycle time has jumped from the one-hour cycle that was common a decade ago to more than two hours today.
The tighter rules didn’t lead to energy savings for customers. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers estimated that they actually increased water consumption by 63 billion gallons, as households would have to run their dishwashers multiple cycles, or pre-rinse their dishes by hand, in order to get dishes actually clean.
Rutzick characterizes the change as “the sort of rule-making that Americans should want from Washington,” and he’s certainly right about that. I’d go even further and say it’s the sort of rule-making Americans do want from Washington.
Having recently bought a new dishwasher that didn’t get the dishes clean, and having listened to many complaints from family and friends about washing machines that didn’t get the clothes clean, Trump’s attack on the Obama regulations and his promise to fix them resonated with me when I first heard them. Indeed, I suggested at the time that if Trump were to first follow through on his promise and then to use “make appliances great again” as his new campaign slogan, he’d easily win a second term in office.
Sadly, while it appears Trump did follow through on his promise, the successful outcome evidently came to late to form the centerpiece of his recent campaign — or perhaps no one bothered to pass on my suggestion. Either way, the result is that this major policy success is now in jeopardy. According to Rutzick, “While the incoming administration has been vague about which deregulatory efforts they intend to undo, they have spoken in favor of tightening environmental regulations—and the new dishwasher rules could be a casualty.” It’s a sad commentary on life in contemporary America that a change of administration may mean we’ll forced to live for four more years with appliances that do a lousy job of cleaning while simultaneously wasting water and energy. Down with the regulatory state!