Expect Successes on Appeals of International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to Intensify State Energy Code Actions.
Last week’s “Friday Update” reported successful appeals of federal pre-empted and electrification-driven code “scope and intent” final actions on the IECC will undoubtedly energize proponents of these actions to implement the overturned IECC requirements in state and local code actions.  AGA BECS Committee members are urging that members  redouble tracking of state and local code actions in their service territory  to identify efforts to implement these changes locally given:
·                State and local energy code violations of pre-emption of federal minimum efficiency standards may proceed in the face of the successful ICC appeals, banking on successful court decisions allowing these violations to appeal.  AGA BECS staff notes that the successful ICC appeals do not forestall state and local jurisdictions from proceeding with promulgating efficiency standards that would constitute violations of federal pre-emption and “roll the dice” in court over efforts to disapprove them.  Court case precedents on federal pre-emption violations are mixed, depending mainly on how the state or local actions are developed.
·                Likewise, the electrification proposals turned back on appeal are likely to generate state and local code proposals, here to implement requirements for residential occupancy wiring and fixtures of electric appliances where gas-fired appliances are installed and electric vehicle charging capabilities for commercial buildings.  These proposals were disapproved upon appeal because they were outside the scope and purpose of the IECC, but a number of jurisdictions had announced before the appeals were heard that these requirements are coming in the form of code coverage.  ICC’s reversal on the appeals is unlikely to be acknowledged or be considered as a reason for not going forward with jurisdictional requirements with the same effect.
AGA’s Codes and Standards program is oriented toward national model codes and standards, but we stand ready to assist members in state and local proceedings once the threat of proposals in conflict with the ICC appeals actions are identified.
AGA Response to The Atlantic Article,  “Kill Your Gas Stove”.
The BECS Committee has been discussing the attacks on cooking with natural gas for a number of years mainly by supporters of “electrification” who cite this issue as a basis for eliminating natural gas from homes and businesses.  AGA’s Communications Department  provided the following report on an article in the magazine, The Atlantic.  “Yesterday,  October 15, 2020, The Atlanticran “Kill Your Gas Stove: They’re bad for you, and the environment. If you can afford to avoid them, you probably should,” an article that presents an unbalanced view of the scientific literature based largely on claims made by environmental groups, specifically the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), in collaboration with Mothers Out Front, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club, in a report titled Health Effects from Gas Stove Pollution. AGA reviewed the RMI report, responding to the eight specific claims stated in the Executive Summary of the report. Findings in the report are not justified based on its supporting statements and citations. Furthermore, the report’s conclusions and recommendations are not substantiated for making policy or consumer decisions about energy choices.
The Atlantic opinion piece does little to challenge or interrogate these claims. It further fails to note any perspectives, and specifically absence of urgency for action on gas-fired cooking combustion emissions, from federal agencies with expertise and responsibility for protecting consumer safety, including the EPA and the CPSC. Contemporary reviews by these agencies of all manner of indoor air sources of respiratory irritants have not identified concerns related to use of gas-fired cooking appliances. Overall, this article presents a limited perspective of the topic of natural gas cooking and indoor air quality more broadly. It is worth noting the article states “The role of gas stoves, in particular, as a contributor to climate change is not so clear-cut. They make up only a small percentage of energy consumed in a gas-reliant home. (Furnaces and water heaters are the real guzzlers.).”
AGA’s Communications Department has also developed a response that outlines claims from the article and a technically-based rebuttal related to these claims. Additionally, AGA will be submitting a letter to the editor to The Atlantic today.” BECS Committee members should consider providing this information to appropriate departments within your organization.
DOE Issues a Comment Extension to November 9th on Notice Pertaining to Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Furnaces and Commercial Water Heaters; Notice of Final Interpretive Rule.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice extending the public comment period for submitting comments and data on the notice of supplemental proposed interpretive rulemaking (NOPIR) that published on September 24, 2020. (See September 25, 2020 BECS Update for details on the NOPIR including the importance of the development of separate product classes for residential gas furnaces to consumers and the gas industry). After considering the public comments on its proposed interpretive rule, DOE tentatively determined to consider a more involved class structure which turns on maintenance of compatibility with existing venting categories, and published a NOPIR on September 24, 2020. On September 25, 2020, and October 6, 2020, DOE received comments requesting extension of the comment period on the NOPIR. On September 29, 2020, DOE received a comment from the submitters of the Gas Industry Petition requesting prompt action on their petition. DOE has announced that it  will accept comments, data, and information regarding this NOPIR until November 9, 2020. Comments can be submitted  identified by docket number EERE-2018-BT-STD-0018, by email (ResFurnaceCommWaterHeater2018STD0018@ee.doe.gov), Federal eRulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov) postal mail, or hand delivery/courier. You can find product information for Residential Furnaces and Commercial Water Heaters including current standards and test procedures, statutory authority, waivers, exceptions and contact information. AGA staff is working with other signers of the original petition (i.e. Spire Inc.,  APGA, NPGA, etc.) in developing a response to DOE on the NOPIR.
AGA Submits Comments to the CEC Pre-Rulemaking California Energy Standard, Title 24 Docket.
Following its participation in a State of California Commissioner Webinar Workshop, ““Advances in Scientific Understanding of the Impacts of Indoor Cooking and Associated Ventilation on Indoor Air Quality” held on September 30th, AGA submitted comments on the Webinar Workshop available here. AGA’s comments in the form of an annotated outline were reviewed by SoCalGas and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), both of which were active participants in the event.  Five general comments were presented including:
·                The event provided very limited opportunity, and none through the agenda for panel presentations, for alternative viewpoints from the electrification and IAQ advocates to be presented.
·                Many of the advocates positions depended upon data and analysis presented in a handful of  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studies that, upon more review, raise questions about the reliability of the underlying data and that have prompted the gas industry and appliance industry to develop more robust and transparent data.
·                The event did not address comments already submitted to the rulemaking docket, including those of industry.
·                National expertise on indoor air quality did not participate in the event, suggesting that technical information presented represented an insular view of indoor air quality and gas cooking appliances.
·                AGA proposed that a second event be scheduled to address these issue for more balance deliberation.
AGA will follow up with SoCalGas and other AGA members operating in California to determine next steps, but AGA’s immediate task will be to see how the event’s publicity influences advocacy against residential natural gas cooking in other jurisdictions.
California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Issues Fireplace Guidance that Conflicts with Electrification Objectives Being Pursued by Other Agencies in the State of California.
SCAQMD announce in page 6 of its “South Coast AQMD Advisor” publication for October through December 2020 that consumers should consider switching from woodburning fireplaces to natural gas fireplaces.  The article also suggests considering either natural gas or electric fireplaces as an alternative to wood burning.  This guidance is in conflict with State of California policies advocating abandonment of  the direct use of natural gas and advocacy groups and state agency positions supporting electrification as a means of reducing fossil fuel use in consumer energy decision making.  This was most recently expressed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and electrification advocates in the California Energy Commission (CEC) pre-rulemaking proceeding to update the California Energy Standard, Title 24 for the 2022 edition.  This conflict points out an important inconsistency between California policy guidance and air quality related guidance, the SCAQMA guidance targeted at reducing particulate air emissions in the State of California due to wildfires raging across the state.
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
Recent Code Body Meetings
Board of Building Regulations and Standards
State Building Code Council (SBCC) Meeting
Bills with Recent Activity
Bill #
Bill Title
Primary Sponsor(s)
Last Action
Last Action Date