Postscript on Creeping Environmentalist Totalitarianism
May 31, 2011
Speaking of “efficiency”, I knew that the EPA already had the power to tell us how much water could come out of our showerheads (which is bad enough), but I didn’t know that “The venerable Consumer Reports” had turned someone in; I’ve now independently verified that this appeared in the October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports (page 36):
. . . the $500 Hudson Reed Theme Thermostatic AS333 shower tower’s forceful spray seemed too good to be true — or legal.
Showerheads made after 1994 can’t pump out more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a pressure of 80 pounds per square inch, according to federal regulations. Most shower towers or multihead showers get around the rules by limiting each head or spray to 2.5 gpm. So if you have four sprays, they could legally use 10 gallons per minute. But the main showerhead on the Hudson Reed used a whopping 3.95 gpm, on average. A test of a second sample confirmed those results. We’ve contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the regulations.
(I like that the federal government isn’t interested only in gallons per minute, but also has a further regulation specifically on the water pressure, as if their concern weren’t to save water so much as to give us a not-very-good shower.) Again, “Consumer Reports acknowledges that many shower fixtures get around this rule by using several shower heads, but the magazine decided to report the new single-head fixture to authorities, anyway.”
So, did CR’s actions make a difference? Well, they were proud to report in the June 2010 issue (page 41),
After our article was published, the Department of Energy requested data from Hudson Reed on the AS333 and proposed a $1.9 million fine for that and 63 other products.
. . .
“We are encouraging people to come to us with test data that they have,” said Scott Blake Harris, general counsel for the DOE. “But anytime we see credible evidence of a possible violation, such as published in Consumer Reports, we open an investigation.”
. . .
At press time, Hudson Reed had to pay the penalty or negotiate a lesser amount by April 15, after which the DOE would seek the whole amount in court.
Great. Anything else you can do to help us out, Consumer Reports?
We believe that the federal standard should set limits for the overall flow of multiple-head systems. (Ibid.)
I can’t believe it. My formerly favorite “consumer advocacy” organization has become an advocate for big government, against us.
Incidentally, I had just subscribed to Consumer Reports for the first time earlier this month, when I thought I was going to need a new car. When it turned out I didn’t, I decided to keep my year’s subscription anyway—it could be useful for other products, but also I figured it was just a good organization to support.
No more. I called today to cancel my subscription, ask for a refund, and ask whether they had anything to say for themselves. The guy at the first number I called couldn’t answer that last question, and referred me to Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports.
I called the number he gave me, (914) 378-2300, and reached a person pretty quickly.
— I explained that I was concerned to learn that Consumer Reports had turned in a showerhead maker to the government in 2009.
— She said that CR is a consumer-advocacy organization, and so of course they report any product that they think will be harmful to consumers.
— I explained that the complaint had been, if anything, the opposite, that the product worked too well, and violated the EPA’s limit on water flow.
— She now said that she couldn’t offer me any explanations and that the information contained in the CR article was all they had to say on the subject.
— Then she hung up on me.
I had to make a separate call to cancel my subscription.
Who needs secret police if the citizens are willing to rat each other out for free?
Since it’s on topic again, here’s that “Green Police” commercial for your viewing pleasure (and/or astonishment and horror):
I still can’t believe that commercial ever got made.