NAHB scored an important legislative trifecta on three key issues — transformers, waters of the United States (WOTUS) and energy codes — when the House on Oct. 26 approved an Energy and Water appropriations bill that would strip funding pertaining to onerous implementation rules dealing with top NAHB priorities.
Prior to the House vote, NAHB sent a letter to lawmakers strongly urging passage of these three components of the spending bill.
The spending bill contains NAHB-supported language to defund any efforts by the Department of Energy (DOE) to increase energy-efficiency standards on distribution transformers. The DOE has proposed a rule to increase efficiency standards for transformers by a mere tenth of a percentage point, which NAHB believes would further exacerbate the dearth of transformers that is raising housing costs.
In our letter to lawmakers, NAHB said that “Congress’s authority to withhold funding for this ill-conceived rule will prevent consequential bottlenecks in the supply chain.”
Earlier in the week, NAHB scored another legislative win on this issue when the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate and Grid Security approved legislation that will help ease the shortage of distribution transformers. H.R. 4167, the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act, is standalone legislation that would prevent this proposed DOE rule from moving forward. The measure would repeal DOE’s authority to propose, finalize, implement, administer or enforce any energy-efficiency standard for distribution transformers for the next five years.
The Energy and Water appropriations bill also addresses the Biden administration’s 2023 WOTUS Rule, which falls far short of providing certainty and clarity to the regulated community by providing vague definitions of what water features are covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA) and grants regulators unfettered discretion to make these determinations.
While the Supreme Court, in Sackett v. EPA, nullified problematic pillars of the 2023 rule, NAHB welcomes the proactive measure by Congress to withhold funding for the original rule while NAHB works with lawmakers and federal agencies to achieve predictable WOTUS guidelines that will significantly hasten the home construction pipeline that our nation urgently needs.
In a related development, NAHB successfully fought to ensure the wetlands regulatory program that members rely on to pull permits will be fully funded in fiscal 2024 at $218 million, unchanged from the fiscal 2023 level. This funding level will help address permitting backlogs.
The Inflation Reduction Act that was signed into law last year provides $1 billion to support the efforts of state and local governments to adopt updated energy codes.
Although this is the current law of the land, NAHB was able earlier this year to get legislation passed by the House that would repeal the specific section of the Inflation Reduction Act that provides $1 billion to pressure state and local governments to adopt updated energy codes that are more costly and restrictive. And thanks to NAHB efforts, a companion bill was introduced in the Senate with 12 co-sponsors.
The spending bill approved on Oct. 26 also once again defunds the section of the Inflation Reduction Act that provides the $1 billion in grant money to adopt updated energy codes. This measure acts as another legislative vehicle to help advance this key energy codes provision through both chambers of Congress.