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Trump push for faster but wasteful dishwashers headed for rinse cycle


Former President Donald Trump really got the crowd going last year when he promised them faster dishwashers.

"Anybody have a new dishwasher?" Trump said at the campaign rally in Milwaukee in January 2020, using hyperbole to claim modern, efficient dishwashers needed 10 cycles to clean dishes.

"I'm sorry for that," Trump said. "I'm sorry for that. It's worthless. They give you so little water."

Trump's administration last year rolled back regulations on dishwashers along with shower heads, clothes washers and dryers. The new rules relaxed limits on water and energy use. Trump said the goal was to give consumers choices.

But almost no one was clamoring for the changes. Manufacturers didn't support them. They said there was no need. Environmental groups called the new rules wasteful. Consumer groups said modern appliances already work pretty well.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden's Energy Department said it planned to reverse the Trump-era changes. The still-new rules for dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers would go back to what they were before Trump. It comes a couple weeks after the Energy Department said it was doing the same with shower heads.

The agency's move was applauded by groups such as the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

It was mourned by people such as Sam Kazman, general counsel for the conservative-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute.

"I'm disappointed," Kazman said. "But we've been expecting this for some time."

Trump's dishwasher rule created a new class of super-fast dishwashers with one-hour cycles that wouldn't be inhibited by water and energy limitations.

It took effect last October, shortly before the presidential election.

But no manufacturer appears to have made a new dishwasher that fits the rule.

Same with super-fast clothes washers and dryers.

Kazman chalked it up to manufacturers expecting that a new administration would undo the Trump-era regulatory changes.

It was Kazman's group that started it all with a petition in 2018 asking the government to create this new class of appliance.

Dishwasher makers immediately objected to his idea. They said consumers were not asking for this feature. And they said almost all dishwashers shipped since 2017 already included a one-hour option.

Trump also changed the rules for shower heads, creating a loophole to allow for potentially unlimited water use.

While the amount of water used in a shower was still capped at 2.5 gallons per minute, the agency gave a new interpretation of the cap. Water use would be measured per shower head, instead of per shower stall. So a shower stall could have multiple shower heads — delivering more water.

Trump often talked about dishwashers and shower heads while on the campaign trail or at the White House last year.

He also talked a lot about toilets — how they allegedly don't work as well, either, because of efficiency standards. Toilet manufacturers and product testing firms disagreed with his assertions.

But it didn't matter. His administration never suggested rules for more powerful toilets.