Federal judge refuses to block Washington’s new building code

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(The Center Square) – A federal judge has ruled in against a group of plaintiffs seeking to block Washington’s new building code requirements restricting the use of natural gas in favor of electricity.

The new energy code was set to take effect this month, but was delayed by the State Building Code Council in May after a separate federal ruling overturned similar rule imposed by the city of Berkeley. The updated code heavily restricts the use of natural gas systems for space and water heating in favor of heat pumps. Although heat pumps are energy efficient, they represent an added housing construction expense that building industry critics say will make new homes even less affordable.

In an email to The Center Square, Building Industry Association of Washington Communications Director Janelle Guthrie wrote that “we are very disappointed in this ruling and its effects on homebuilders and future homeowners. While we are not plaintiffs in this case, we expect that the plaintive will be exploring all their options moving forward to ensure the merits of the case are heard.”

In a statement reacting to the judge’s decision, EarthJustice Senior Attorney Jan Hasselman wrote that “the movement to phase out fossil gas in homes and businesses is unstoppable. The gas industry cannot stop it with lawsuits, lobbying, or disinformation, and we’re glad the Court agreed to let progress on these important codes continue.”

A separate lawsuit challenging the new energy code’s legality was filed earlier this year in Thurston County Superior Court.

The new energy code will take effect in October. The energy code is updated every three years.

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