Update on the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Others Lawsuit Challenging DOE’s “Process Rule” – Court Grants AGA Motion to Intervene.
As we reported in the  May 15th  End Use Codes and Standards Update,  the Natural Resources Defense Council  filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit challenging the Energy Department’s “process rule” that limits when the agency can create new energy efficiency standards for appliances. The DOE rule finalized in January requires that any new energy efficiency rule must save 0.3 quadrillion BTUs over 30 years, a standard that DOE says only 60 percent of efficiency rules created over the last 30 years have met. Energy efficiency advocates slammed the rule as setting too high a bar for creating rules that would drive efficiency improvements.  Politico reported that  Joe Vukovich, attorney and clean energy advocate for NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy program, said in a statement. “Household and business budgets will feel the harsh blow, as will the environment, because of this DOE’s relentless efforts to undermine the energy efficiency standards program and benefit industry.”  As a reminder, AGA is on record supporting the updated DOE “Process Rule” and the rule has the support of appliance manufacturers. The revised DOE  Process Rule is an important upgrade for DOE to follow in developing appliance and equipment minimum efficiency requirements.  This week, in response to an AGA filed “motion to intervene” in this court filing, (the appeal is in the  9th Circuit, State of California, et al. v. DOE, et al., Nos. 20-71068 and 20-71071), the court  issued the attached order that does the following:
  1. Grants AGA’s motion to intervene in both appeal dockets (it also grants the motions to intervene of APGA, AHRI, AHAM and CTA).
  2. Consolidates both dockets in to one proceeding (various states and NRDC filed separate appeals).
  3. Holds the consolidated dockets in abeyance pending DOE’s issuance of a related final rule (DOE filed a motion in mid-June stating that it was preparing to issue a rule to amend the Process Rule with regard to what is known as the ‘‘walk-down’’ approach, “very soon”).
  4. Within 90 days after today (Sept. 28), or 14 days after the issuance of the related final rule, whichever occurs first, DOE is required to file a status report.
Therefore, there should not be any activity in this case until DOE issues the amendment to the Process Rule.  We will provide additional updates as this court action proceeds to act on the lawsuit.
BECS Staff Supporting Responses to Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Regulatory Challenges Based Upon Indoor Air Quality Claims.
In response to a member request, BECS staff is supporting a member company in the development of a response to a challenge of an interconnection tariff proposal covering introduction of RNG into its system.  Among several issues raised in the challenge are claims regarding indoor air quality (IAQ) health hazards raised by combustion of RNG specifically and fuel gases (i.e., natural gas) generally.  Discussions  with the member scheduled for early next week will consider an initial BECS Codes and Standards analysis of the claimant’s filing with the state public utility commission. The analysis focuses upon specific claims concerning health effects associated with unvented combustion of RNG and more familiar claims about combustion emissions issues of unvented natural gas  appliance emissions.  BECS  Codes and Standards staff continues to invite  AGA members to engage AGA for assistance in responding to all IAQ claims.  The use of IAQ arguments against RNG is a new front in opposition to RNG. To date, we are aware of a developing controversy over RNG’s atmospheric carbon contribution reductions relative to natural (“fossil”) gas.  However, we have not received detailed information on the disputed carbon emissions comparison calculations and are continuing to investigate what specific claims are being made.
ASHRAE Board of Directors Reasserts Its Disapproval of Flawed Standard 62.2 Ban of Unvented Combustion Gas Heating Appliances.
Last year, AGA was pleased that the ASHRAE Board returned the 62.2. standards “Addendum ‘a’” to the ASHRAE Standards Committee noting that the addendum would ban the use of unvented natural gas heating appliances.   This week, a motion was made at the ASHRAE Board meeting to reconsider the its action and fortunately, the motion  was ruled “out of order,” effectively killing any further hope of keeping Addendum ‘a’ on the standards development agenda.  Addendum ‘a’ would have effectively banned unvented combustion gas heating appliances by imposing size limits on these appliances that would have rendered the appliance infeasible.  The original Board action to return Addendum ‘a’ was interpreted as a consequence of several fundamental procedural errors in the processing of the Addendum, one of which was the lack of SSPC 62.2 response to negative public comments.  No specific reasons were provided by the Board, the ASHRAE procedures not requiring it to do so.  In this week’s action, the Board was reacting to motions from a senior ASHRAE technical member and an Environmental Health Committee member in following with a balloted correspondence at last week’s SSPC 62.2 meeting to, in sequential order: (1) reconsider its return of Addendum ‘a’ to SSPC 62.2 through the Standards Committee, and (2) receive specific reasoning for the Board’s original rejection of Addendum ‘a.’  Aside from the parliamentary reasons that justify this week’s Board action, AGA pointed out the logical flaw of the SSPC 62.2 request: how could SSPC 62.2 ask for reconsideration when it did not have the Board’s original reasoning?  In Committee discussion, AGA expressed mild support for requesting a Board explanation of its rejection but not the proposal for reconsideration. 
AGA has also argued throughout deliberations on Addendum ‘a’ that the procedural manipulations and errors committed by SSPC 62.2 in the processing of Addendum ‘a’ and public comments represented an embarrassment of ASHRAE as a technical society and were unnecessary in getting full and objective consideration of restrictions on unvented combustion gas heating appliances.  Implicitly, ASHRAE took such perspectives into account by convening an ad hoc working group to develop an alternative proposal for developing sizing restrictions on these appliances  The working group, composed of SSPC 62.2 members, industry interests, and Standards Committee members, developed a substitute proposal for appliance sizing, which was successfully balloted by a margin of 20-4-1-1 by the Committee at last week’s meeting.  Final results of the balloting of this alternative will follow a “continuation ballot” of the proposal covering the entire Committee, including those not present at last week’s meeting. While AGA voted for the proposal and will not change its vote during the continuation ballot, at least one fundamental error in the requirements as proposed was identified and needs to be addressed in the public review process to follow. Also, while Addendum ‘a’ and the new proposal focus upon nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions and potential exposure considerations, other emission products including carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor will be raised by opponents of these appliances at that stage as IAQ concerns.  AGA does not view inclusion of these other products of combustion as fundamentally problematic in terms of feasible appliance size ranges and potential exposures.
AGA Nearing Completion of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of Potential Sponsors Covering Residential Gas Cooking Appliance Emission Testing.
AGA legal staff is in the process of developing a three-party draft MOU for engaging sponsoring organization for the testing of emissions from gas-fired residential cooking appliances.  The MOU would cover sponsoring organization rights and responsibilities and does not address the testing program itself.  Following agreement to the MOU, the work scope of the testing program (discussed in earlier “End Use Codes and Standards Updates”) will be refined and used to solicit testing organization proposals. Development of the MOU is extremely important for the technical program development since it will help define the scope of the testing program, particularly in terms of the fuel gases used in the tests, the types of tests to be conducted, the number of appliances to be tested, etc. 
State Codes Activity Update
[This is a weekly feature of the “Friday Update” covering state code calendar activities as presented by the online utility “Fiscal Note,” which is sponsored by APGA and AGA Code and Standards.]
Recent Activity Alerts
At the Special  Council  meeting  on  June  26,  2020,  the  Council  voted  to  extend  the  effective  date  to  February 1,  2021.
Recent  Code  Body  Meetings 
Board of  Building  Regulations  and Standards
Bills  with  Recent  Activity 
Bill  # 
Bill  Title 
Last Action 
HB 77     7
Community  Affairs,  Department of;  consider  amending  the  state minimum  standard  codes  to  allow tall  mass  timber  construction types;  direct
John  Corbett  (R)
Jon  Burns  (R)
Tom  McCall  (R)
Terry  England  (R)
Lynn  Smith  (R)
Dominic  LaRiccia
(R)  John
Wilkinson  (R) 
Passed Senate;
House  Sent  to
Summary :  This  bill  directs  the  Department  of  Community  Affairs  to  review  of  the  tall  mass  timber provisions  of  the  2021  International  Building  Code,  approved  by  the  International  Code  Council,  for  the purpose  of  considering  whether  the  department,  with  the  approval  of  the  board,  shall  amend  the Georgia  state  minimum  standard  codes  to  include  provisions  for  tall  mass  timber  as  contained  in  the 2021  International  Building  Code  for  construction  types  IV-A,  IV-B,  and  IV-C.