Give Me Laundry Liberty or Give Me Death!

MAGA Republicans say that America is in crisis: The economy is collapsing while the nation is being overrun by hordes of violent immigrants. Not true.

But if that’s what you believe, you should be laser-focused on fighting the clear and present danger, right?

Instead, they’re focused on the menace of woke washing machines.

On Tuesday, 205 House Republicans (joined by seven Democrats) voted for the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act, intended to limit the ability of the Department of Energy to set energy efficiency standards. In April, Republicans planned to vote on a series of more specific bills: the Liberty in Laundry Act, the Refrigerator Freedom Act and more. These votes were delayed but may still happen.

If all of this sounds absurd, that’s because it is. But as I noted the other day with regard to the crusade against lab-grown meat, the deep silliness of one of our major political parties is itself a serious issue. If you can get past the silliness, there are also some substantive policy questions here. Should the government be trying to limit home energy consumption? If so, should it do so with efficiency mandates for appliances, or in some other way?

The case for trying to reduce home energy consumption is simple and overwhelming. Electric power generation does significant environmental damage. Not only does it emit greenhouse gases, adding to the risk of climate catastrophe; it also has more immediate effects on air pollution, including raising levels of particulates and ozone that have measurable adverse effects on human health. These costs will fall as we increasingly turn to renewable energy, but we’re still in the early stages of that transition. So when you use more electricity than necessary, you are imposing real costs — including a higher risk of death — on other people.

That said, nobody is suggesting that Americans give up the convenience of modern life. The goal, rather, is to deliver that convenience more efficiently — to heat our homes, wash our clothes and dishes and so on while using somewhat less energy.

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