Washington State Seemingly Wins Battle Against Natural Gas

Natural gas and building industry groups recently asked to dismiss their lawsuit against new Washington state building codes aimed at ending gas use. 

Washington State has seemingly won its battle with natural gas and building industry groups over the state’s new building codes. At odds was the question of natural gas in new construction. In an effort to combat climate change, Washington moved to require all new residential and commercial construction to have heat pumps instead of fossil fuel power appliances. The lawsuit followed similar cases in Berkeley, California & Eugene, Oregon. A federal judge struck down the industry’s request to vacate the codes in July, leaving little room for this suite to move forward.

There are still some unsettled issues in Washington as officials decided to delay the implementation of the new building codes until October and may still make some final adjustments. The biggest question for any jurisdiction looking to ban natural gas is how any such policy may collide with the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which outright preempts direct prohibition by states and local governments. Washington used building codes and efficiency standards as the means to limit gas use. Since this method focused more on outcomes and less on prohibiting any one technology, it did not run afoul of the EPCA.

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Read the MACo Deep Dive – Natural Gas Groups Test Strategy to Overturn Local Gas Bans