IndyTruth Blog
International regulation of your house 
Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 09:09 PM - Opinion, Policy
Posted by Administrator
All eyes are on Washington D.C. this month as a new Congress convenes and a new President is inaugurated. Honestly, so far this year, I have paid little attention to the Capitol other than enjoying the latest Kucinich video on C-SPAN Junkie. Instead, I am much more intrigued with what is happening at the state level.

Today, I heard about an exciting bill that would provide for gold and silver transactions with the State of Indiana (but more on that in a future post), and that got me browsing through the General Assembly web site to see what else our state representatives and senators have in store for us. A bill that caught my eye was SB 284, regarding the International Energy Conservation Code. What is the International Energy Conservation Code and how could some international institution get to dictate what Indiana does with its energy?

The synopsis of the IECC bill explains that it

Requires the fire and building safety commission to adopt the most recent edition of the International Energy Conservation Code before July 1, 2010. Requires the commission to adopt any subsequent editions of the code not later than 18 months after the effective date of the subsequent edition.

I was already concerned when I read this, because I am not sure what energy conservation has to do with fire and building safety. Is someone trying to use regulations intended to save lives as a means to serve some allegedly environmentalist agenda?

It turns out that they aren't only trying to do it. The IECC has already been adopted in a large number of states. In fact, in the 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) Congress mandated that all states must review and consider adopting the national model energy standard. It is interesting that Congress feels it can mandate that states regulate something. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution comes close to giving the federal government the authority to regulate anything, let alone to mandate states to adopt regulations. 38 states and D.C. don't seem to mind, and have adopted some form of IECC or or national model energy standards for residential building codes (40+1 have regulated commercial codes). Indiana has adopted statewide standards older than 1998, which I would assume to mean they submitted to Congress' EPAct, but haven't let the International Code Council increase the bullying over the last a decade. Now that it is 2009, state senator Sue Errington (D-26) has decided that 10+ years behind is just too much. It is time that Indiana submit to the new world order of housing regulation.

The IECC might sound pretty to the average tree hugging Al Gore pupil. The Responsible Energy Codes Alliance brags that it

  • Effectively conserve energy
  • Minimizes increases in construction costs
  • Allows the use of new materials, products or methods of construction
  • Eliminates preferential treatment for particular industries or types or classes of materials, products or methods of construction.
From the perspective of someone who understands the nature of human rights and the intent of the Founders of our nation, it translates to

  • Increases the cost of building a house
  • Requires extra expenses that may be unnecessary for certain building projects
  • Requires one to jump through even more hoops to build a house
  • Prohibits the right to fully own property and choose what to do with it
Regulations like this inevitably rob individuals of reasonable choices that have no negative effect on themselves nor other people. If I attach a garage to my house, is IECC going to make me insulate it? If I am building a summer cabin that doesn't even have a furnace or air conditioner, is the IECC going to make me put special windows on it? So what if I don't do it? Whether or not the requirement is necessary the government has mandated it and will punish me if I do not meet it.

It is not the government's place to make this choice. As long as I am aware of what building materials are more energy efficient or even which ones are safer (likely thanks to Google), I can make the right choice for myself. Even if I don't make the most energy efficient choice, that isn't going to hurt anybody. However, if the government makes the choice, unnecesary expenses will be forced upon people and their private property. If the government chooses, somebody does get hurt.

Through the state and federal governments, the ICC regulates everything from plumbing and electricity to zoning. What will they regulate next, our rose bushes? I hope that Indiana will not hand over our property rights to Congress and the ICC by passing SB 284. It doesn't set a good precedent to let some committee in D.C. tell us what kind of pipes we can flush our fecal waste through.
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