House Energy Bill Includes Federal Role in Writing Building Codes
Prior to adjourning for the congressional August recess, the House on Aug. 4 passed a comprehensive energy bill that would steer the nation toward cleaner fuels, including a mandate that requires utilities to produce 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
The bill, H.R. 3221, was combined with an energy tax measure (H.R. 2776) passed later in the day by the House that would repeal about $16 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies to help pay for renewable energy and conservation efforts.
H.R. 3221 would establish tougher efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings; approve billions of dollars for research into clean energy and alternative fuels; increase regulations on energy development; and create grant programs to promote public transportation and the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol.
Of note to home builders, NAHB was successful in incorporating an amendment to the House bill that would require an analysis of technical feasibility and economic justification based on available materials, appliances, technologies and construction practices prior to any modifications to building codes.
Under current law, building codes must be approved and adopted at the state and local level. A provision in H.R. 3221 would create a new code-writing role for the Department of Energy for states that fail to achieve significant above-code benchmarks, despite feasibility or costs.
The House bill must still be reconciled with a different energy package approved by the Senate in June. The Senate version requires cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to achieve a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The House bill contains no such provision.
President Bush has indicated that he would veto both chambers’ bills, arguing that because they each increase taxes on the oil industry they would result in lower oil and gas production in the U.S. and higher costs for consumers.
To read the legislation, click here and enter H.R. 3221 in the box at the center of the page.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Odina at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8570.