Big News–Inslee’s ‘Clean Buildings’ Proposal Stalls in Committee
Natural gas and building workers, real estate firms, and others are probably relieved to see House Bill 1084 stall out in committee; thereby dooming it this session.
HB 1084, better known as Gov. Inslee's Clean Buildings proposal, would have eliminated natural gas or any other fossil fuel from new construction completely by 2027. It was considered a keystone in his pursuit to go green in WA state. It would have applied to residential and commercial (public) construction.
According to sources, including the Tacoma News Tribune, the bill was met from all sides with furious resistance. This included labor unions, the natural gas industry and various building groups. According to the News Tribune:
"The original proposal would have required fossil fuel-free space and water heating in new construction under the 2027 state energy code and set a course for eliminating fossil fuels from existing buildings. Among other details, it would have also created a “heat pump and electrification program” with an aim to create a workforce and expertise while supporting low-income energy users in the transition from gas to electricity."
The House Appropriations Committee failed to vote on it, and a much scaled back version never made it out of the House Environment and Energy Committee; likely it included resistance from GOP legislators, including some from our Districts.
Various groups who opposed the plan pointed out it not only stood to reduce jobs and opportunities for workers in the natural gas and building trades; but also removed what they referred to as 'energy choice' for consumers. Many homeowners (especially with newer construction) choose natural gas for heating due to it's low cost. These groups argued consumers should be allowed choice, as competition can also make prices more manageable.
Inslee spokespeople said the plan will be pursued again, most likely in the next legislative session. But for now, it's dead. Rather surprising considering Inslee's Democratic support (control) in the legislature is the highest he's ever had.