Going To Bat for State Energy Efficiency Gains

Some industry groups wage war against reasonable efficiency progress in WA

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Late yesterday Earthjustice attorneys stepped in to defend a set of critical energy efficiency standards in the state of Washington.

These efficiency gains—which will save consumers millions of dollars, reduce harmful global warming pollution, and set a strong example for other states to follow—face an industry-group lawsuit aiming to dismantle them.

The baseless industry challenge to these energy efficiency standards would cost Washington residents money, and threatens to stand in the way of significant pollution cuts in Washington.

Nevertheless, in an effort to avoid following the new building code requirements, the Building Industry Association of Washington is wrongly claiming that federal law prevents the state from requiring home builders to use energy efficient design elements in new construction projects.

Yesterday Earthjustice filed a legal intervention in defense of the state building codes on behalf of the NW Energy Coalition, Washington Environmental Council, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council in the U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Explained Earthjustice attorney Amanda Goodin: "Federal law explicitly lays out a path so states can adopt building codes that promote energy efficiency, which will create green jobs. The Washington building code follows that path."

Plain and simple: The idea that federal law prevents Washington State from adopting practical energy rules that save families and businesses money is ridiculous.

The Washington State Building Code Council adopted these new standards last fall, requiring builders to choose from a menu of practical and accessible energy-saving options for new homes, such as installation of high-efficiency, money-saving furnaces or water heaters, or super-efficient insulation and windows.

The building code will not only save residents energy and money, it will boost green jobs in the state.

"The last-minute legal assault by the building industry seeks to erase common-sense efficiency standards that will conserve energy, reduce pollution, and spur economic recovery in our state," said Kim Drury of the NW Energy Coalition, one of Earthjustice’s partners in the legal case.

Added Drury: "It is staggeringly short-sighted of a segment of the building industry to oppose these rules."

Liz Judge worked at Earthjustice from 2010–2016. During that time, she worked on mountaintop removal mining, national forests, and clean water issues, and led the media and advocacy communications teams.