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Blue Star Gas, PPGA join lawsuit against Washington building council

March 6, 2023 By    

(Editor’s note: This article was updated with a reference to the National Propane Gas Association filing a federal lawsuit against Washington state.)

Blue Star Gas and the Pacific Propane Gas Association (PPGA) are part of a coalition of trade associations, union representatives, businesses and homeowners banding together in a lawsuit challenging the Washington State Building Code Council’s new codes restricting the use of propane and natural gas in new residential and commercial construction.

The lawsuit is directed at three rules passed by the State Building Code Council late last year amending the state commercial and residential building codes, the energy code and the wildland urban interface code.

Builders will be required to install heat pumps for space and water heating in all new buildings built after July 1, 2023, cites the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and the Northwest National Construction Alliance as an example of the impacts. The council passed a new wildland urban interface code with impacts on building new homes affordably. It also adopted a rule requiring builders to equip all new homes with carports and garages with 40-amp, 208/240-volt branch circuits for electric vehicles.

According to the lawsuit, “these regulations effectively eliminate natural gas or propane use in the home; interfere with commercial and consumer energy choice; unnecessarily increase the cost of homebuilding, ownership, and maintenance; impair commerce; and jeopardize the jobs and livelihoods of thousands in the trade industry.”

BIAW notes how the rule allows propane and natural gas to be used for backup heating, but says installing propane or natural gas with electrical appliances adds another $2,400 to homes – assuming a gas line is readily available for a new hookup.

The lawsuit filed in Thurston County Superior Court attracted a broad coalition of more than 15 plaintiffs representing union tradespeople, homebuilders, remodelers, HVAC installers, potential new homeowners and energy companies.

The suit alleges the State Building Code Council approved the rules without legislative authority and in direct violation of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act. It further alleges the council ignored cost studies and feasibility reports in making its decisions. The state has 20 days to file a response.

Read the full lawsuit here.

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) later joined a coalition of trade associations and companies as plaintiffs in filing a federal lawsuit against Washington state. NPGA says it had provided financial backing for the state court action.

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About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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