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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Chairman, this is one of those sort of occasions I'm going to refer to this almost as the law of unintended consequences.

About 6 months ago, I was visiting one of my favorite places in life, a Starbucks in Scottsdale, and a gentleman walks up to me, just bouncing off the walls, and apparently it wasn't from a bunch of espressos. He had just been given a $447,000 fine for his tiny little business that made custom shower heads, made specialty shower heads, because apparently the water restrictor ring inside was too easy to pry out.

Now, I need to disclose something here, in all honesty. I've actually changed the shower heads in my house. And guess what the first thing I've always done is. I take a screwdriver and stick it in there and pull that little water-restricting ring out of there because I have this bad habit; I actually like to get wet when I shower. I know it's a novel concept, but it's something I like to do.

But think of this: the Department of Energy is out there enforcing, and here's the standards they live by. If it takes more or less than 8 pounds of pressure to remove the water restrictor after they take apart the shower head, they come and fine you.

But the creepy part of this story is they demanded a list of everyone who had purchased one of these shower heads. So now the Department of Energy is putting together the database of the people that bought shower heads that the water-restricting O ring inside is too easy to remove.

Have we lost our minds?

I'm not thrilled coming to the floor and doing a limitation amendment on something like this, but this is the type of thing the American people are absolutely livid about. And this actually affects our daily lives.

With that, Madam Chairwoman, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. This is actually an interesting debate from an economic standpoint.

Being from the desert, where we actually really, really care about our water supply, we've learned something. I'm one of those people who lives in a house with rock landscaping and low water this and low water landscaping, but I do like to get wet in my shower, as we've already stated. If you want to deal with water usage, basic economics says you do it through the pricing mechanism, not through trying to manage my life with a bunch of laws.

Madam Chairwoman, I stand in front of you and hope this amendment passes because, in many ways, I think this is a great example of what drives the American voters, the American people mad in that we try to micromanage every aspect of their lives, and we turn huge numbers of them functionally into criminals. I would love to do an honest survey through this body of how many people have done any remodeling or who have put up a new showerhead and who have not monkeyed with that flow restrictor that's inside that showerhead.

Ultimately, I appreciate that in 1992 this somehow passed through this body. Maybe it was meant to help, and maybe it was meant to have all sorts of good purposes, but this is not the rational methodology with which to promote that type of water conservation. Then when you turn the Department of Energy into a police force that actually now sets standards of--if I can exceed 8 pounds of force, then all of a sudden it's perfectly legal, but if it's under 8 pounds of force in removing the water restrictor, then I get a $447,000 fine, as my constituent received here.

With that, Madam Chairwoman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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