The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1992 (EPAct) should stand for another year, according to the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute. Rep. Joseph Knollenberg’s (R-MI) push to repeal the law has fallen on deaf ears in the House Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said Ce Ce Kremer, vice president of government affairs for PMI. The subcommittee had scheduled a hearing on the bill for August, but Knollenberg decided it would be better to wait until next year.

Knollenberg, who is up for election this fall, first introduced the Plumbing Standards Improvement Act in 1997 to “amend EPAct by repealing the plumbing efficiency provisions in the Act.” Specifically, the bill, if passed, will repeal a requirement that restricts all new toilets to 1.6 gpf and showerheads to 2.5 gpm.

“Anything can happen until Congress adjourns in October,” Kremer said. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Since the restrictions were enacted, plumbers and supply stores have received some complaints from unsatisfied customers. The current law provides for fines as high as $2,500 for using illegal toilets, but black markets for them have developed across the country. On the other hand, some surveys show strong support for the 1.6 gpf water closet.

PMI is fighting the bill because the repeal could potentially create hundreds, if not thousands, of local regulations. More than 3,000 state and local communities nationwide would be able to determine flow rate requirements. A coalition of fixture manufacturers — including Kohler, Mansfield, Briggs, Gerber and American Standard — joined PMI to fight the bill.

Knollenberg told PM last year that “The current restrictions are ludicrous. They force consumers to either become lawbreakers, or live with showerheads that dribble or toilets that simply don’t get the job done.”

“It’s a much bigger issue than flow rates and flush volumes,” Kremer said. “Water conservation is good public policy. There are few government programs where everyone wins. The plumbing product provisions of EPAct have begun to realize their enormous potential to help the environment while costing the taxpayers, our government and consumers virtually nothing.”

The bill is expected to be reintroduced in January 1999.