- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 23, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Ice makers are the latest target in the left’s ongoing war against the conveniences of modern life. Earlier this month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued a report that may condemn this essential household item to the contraband list that already includes functional light bulbs, toilets, washing machines and showerheads.

Those looking for an easy way to cool down their drinks with ice cubes are guilty of increasing their refrigerator’s energy consumption by about 12 to 20 percent. That’s unacceptable to global-warming alarmists at the Department of Energy (DOE) who are hard at work finalizing regulatory standards for the fridge. The proposed changes will increase prices by an estimated $2 billion per year, but DOE justifies this added expense by claiming consumers would save $37 in electricity costs over the lifetime of a typical side-by-side.

Paying more up front to obtain paltry energy savings might appeal to some consumers. Others struggling to make ends meet might not see it as such a bargain. Liberals, however, have no interest in letting the public decide what types of products suit their particular needs. Dishonest bureaucrats impose their one-size-fits-all choice on Americans while simultaneously denying they regulate consumer behavior or ban items like light bulbs, showerheads and refrigerators. “I’m pro-choice on bulbs,” claimed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan in congressional testimony last month. “I really do not believe that the appliance standards end up restricting personal choice.”

Yet the likes of Ms. Hogan pull popular products off store shelves and replace them with inferior - but government-sanctioned - products. They do so by forcing appliance manufacturers to file statements confirming that their products meet every aspect of the regulations, that the products have been tested according to government rules and that the manufacturer “is aware of the penalties” involved. Distributing a product that fails to meet with Ms. Hogan’s approval carries a typical fine of $7,300 per item. That adds up quickly. Last year, DOE accused a company of producing a showerhead that worked a little bit too well. For this “crime,” DOE demanded payment of $1.9 million and destruction of this highly effective product.

That’s the left’s idea of “choice.” Uncle Sam is an unwelcome guest in the home. It’s time for Congress to repeal the nanny-state efficiency standards and allow consumers to select the products that they want to use.

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