(The Center Square) – Next month in Spokane Valley, the Washington State Building Code Council will consider modifying codes it adopted earlier this year requiring the use of electric heat pumps rather than natural gas in all new construction.

The building code council is doing so in light of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in May – California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley – that found federal law preempts state and local restrictions on the use of natural gas.

As a result of that ruling, the council delayed implementation of code changes until Oct. 29. The new rules had been set to take effect on July 1.

Proponents of the new codes claim they are a cost-effective step in reducing carbon emissions across the state that will result in burning less fossil fuels as part of the fight against climate change.

Opponents remain unconvinced, saying the new codes will increase the cost of constructing new homes and buildings and that those price hikes will be passed along to buyers.

“The code proposals before the council continue to make it too cost-prohibitive for homeowners and businesses to have the natural gas appliances many prefer and need,” Building Industry Association of Washington Executive Vice President Greg Lane said in a Wednesday news release.

Energy codes need to be loosened in a state dealing with a major housing shortage, he said.

“Washington already has one of the most stringent energy codes in the nation and a massive unmet need for affordable homes,” he concluded. “The SBCC should reject any and all proposals that limit flexibility and choice.”

The upcoming hearing on energy codes is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 15, at the Center Place Regional Event Center, Room 109, located at 2426 North Discovery Place in Spokane Valley. For information on attending the meeting virtually, click here.

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