Boxer-Kerry Punts On National Energy Efficiency Building Code

Yesterday, a draft of the Boxer-Kerry senate version of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill was leaked to the media. I have previously posted about the proposed National Energy Efficiency Code in the Waxman-Markey bill and in the first proposed senate bill ACELA

Both of those proposed Energy Efficiency Codes had specific energy efficiency targets, timelines, adoption and implementation plans, and enforcement, though they differed somewhat in the specifics. Not so the Boxer-Kerry Bill.  What had been pages of turgid regulatory prose in the prior two bills has been condensed to a mere page and a half--Section 174, starting on page 113 of the draft bill for those of you following at home. 

The most interesting part is that all specifics have disappeared.  No mandated energy efficiency savings, no specifics for implementation timeline, no enforcement, nothing.  Just a mandate that the Department of Energy or "other agency head or heads as may be designated by the President" 

shall promulgate regulations establishing building code energy efficiency targets...beginnning not later than January 1, 2014... 

There is also a section requiring the suitable administrator to "promulgate regulations establishing national energy efficiency building codes."  The entire specifics of the regulations are as follows:

Such regulations shall be sufficient to meet the national building code energy efficiency the most cost-effective manner, and may include provisions for State adoption of the national building code standards and certification of State programs.

Many have argued that the Waxman-Markey and ACELA bills went too far--making the energy efficiency requirements too high, and requiring to fast an implementation timeline.  I would argue that the Boxer-Kerry draft does not go far enough--it simply does not provide the stick required to urge rapid development and adoption of a national energy efficiency code.  It also leaves a lot of room for further politicking at the administrative agency level.  What do you think?


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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Timothy R. Hughes - September 30, 2009 11:48 AM

Very interesting development for sure - I think the political reality of trying to swallow stimulus and health care, let alone cap and trade, was starting to choke on political reality.

I am all for tackling efficiency targets, but biting off that and cap and trade seemed a little unwieldy. The most interesting piece is that it feels like they are trying to just push this into a regulatory format ... any thoughts on whether that is actually doable? May make it easier to pass more stringent requirements without dealing with Congress.

Mike - October 1, 2009 9:56 AM

I think this fits right into the bipartisan progressive agenda perfectly.

Leaving the set parameters out of the bill makes it "seem" more friendly, less evasive, less imposing. It however tragically leaves the ability for a regulatory body to later write in policy as they wish which means no one is ultimately responsible to the people on any level that can be fought or disagreed with without having to go into a court room.

This is the down side of democracy and the slow process of the degradation of the democratic system in general. The politicians know that the average joe is too stupid to take note of these types of things. Neither party will protest such moves as they ultimately know their agenda can quickly be inserted into the situation via Å“policy (not law) as the two sides flip flop power during each election cycle.

We have become a country of men rather than a country of laws. Man is greedy, manipulative, cunning, selfish and prone to seek out his or her own agenda rather than protecting the rule of law.

This draft gives both majority parties the ability to do exactly that. Therefore I predict it will go from draft to committee to floor to passage.

Bill - October 1, 2009 12:09 PM

The ACELA and Kerry-Boxer bills will be combined by Reid into a single bill once Kerry-Boxer has gone through the relevant committees. Furthermore, as Senate Energy isn't planning to do any mark up on Kerry-Boxer, it's entirely likely that building codes wouldn't fall under EPW's jurisdiction (or any of the other committees that may mark up the bill).

The ACELA efficiency title is, for all intents and purposes, the Kerry-Boxer title, they just haven't been combined yet.

dan biwee - October 6, 2009 11:43 AM

I completely agree with Mike. The nebulus character of this bill will make it attractive for everyone who wants to invoke a frame of cooperation. All it really seems to say is that they will make known that they will begin to create standards by 2014. This doesn't even mean that the have to create any standards at all, only announce, by 2014, that they will.

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