House Pushes Back on EPA Overreach

capitaldomeNAHB achieved an important victory for builders when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015, on June 25. The bill aims to curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed Clean Power Plan rule, which would have a negative impact on the home building industry.

While EPA’s proposed rule is meant to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants, its broad interpretation reaches beyond the agency’s statutory authority. Specifically, EPA includes consumer energy efficiency and demand-side management in calculating state goals and as an allowable part of required state plans to reduce future GHG emissions.

However, as NAHB outlined in comments submitted to EPA, stricter energy codes would affect only new construction and EPA has no authority over building codes.

What’s more, the energy efficiency requirements on new homes will drastically increase costs to home buyers, without guaranteeing real emissions reductions. After all, no federal or state agency can control how much electrical power a home owner decides to use once the building is occupied.

The Ratepayer Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), allows states to delay compliance with the Clean Power Plan until the courts decide on the legality of the rule. In addition, the bill includes an opt-out provision for any state that determines compliance with the rule would have a negative impact on ratepayers.

NAHB helped lead the effort to pass the bill as a member of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, a coalition of business organizations representing over 80 percent of the U.S. economy.

A similar bill, the Affordable Reliable Electricity Now Act of 2015 (S. 1324), was introduced in the Senate and is expected to receive a committee vote in July.

Although EPA had originally planned to finalize its regulations by June 15, it now expects to release a final rule in August.

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Comments (2)

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  1. J. Cognevich says:

    Just what we need now, more toxins in the air that we ALL breathe in. Sulphur, arsenic, mercury and lead are regulated in building materials we use in construction.

    Why are we as an industry, siding with a representative from Kentucky who is obviously a shill for big coal?

    • NAHB Now says:

      Thanks for writing. The issue we’re concerned with is that the efficiency of new homes is already regulated through the energy codes that builders must comply with. NAHB’s position is that regulating them through an EPA rule on power plants is duplicative and doesn’t make sense.

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