Kentucky governor Matthew Bevin has eliminated eight separate citizen boards that regulate different parts of the construction industry, and combined all their functions into a single advisory board to the state's Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction as part of his ongoing "Red Tape Reduction Initiative." In his executive order, Bevin wrote: "This Reorganization will improve management and increase efficiency by vesting regulatory, licensing, and enforcement authority in a single administrative body." Opponents, however, argue that the move creates a risk to public safety. Jack Coleman, former Deputy Commissioner of the department, cited historic fatal fires in a newspaper editorial criticizing the move (see: "History tragically repeating itself," by Jack Coleman).

Straight-line winds, not a tornado, killed four people in an Alabama trailer park on January 2, reports the Birmingham News (see: "Straight-line winds, not tornado, killed 4 in southeast Alabama"). Seven people in the trailer sought shelter in different rooms in a mobile home; three were unharmed, while the other four were killed by a falling tree, according to reports (see: "Quick decisions meant life or death in Southeastern storms," by Jay Reeves/Associated Press).

Louisiana could lose 2,800 square miles of coastal land and 27,000 buildings may have to be moved, elevated, or abandoned in the next 40 years. That's according to the state's just-released 2017 Coastal Master Plan. "In the 2017 draft, an entire section is devoted to 'Flood Risk and Resilience,'" reports the Advocate (see: "2017 Coastal Master Plan predicts grimmer future for Louisiana coast as worst-case scenario becomes best-case," by Bob Marshall). "It calls for spending up to $6 billion to protect — and in some cases, vacate — properties in areas that can expect flooding during a so-called 100-year storm... Scientists in charge of the Coastal Master Plan said the more dire outlook can be traced to one striking fact: The worst-case scenario for human-caused sea-level rise in the 2012 plan, 1.48 feet, has become the best-case scenario in the 2017 edition. In fact, the National Climate Assessment now estimates sea levels on U.S. coastlines could rise 4 feet by 2100."

New stormwater regulations in Washington State apply to previously permitted projects, not just to new proposals, the state Supreme Court has ruled. The Everett Herald has a report (see: "Stormwater rules are upheld by state Supreme Court," by Noah Haglund). "At issue was whether new low-impact stormwater regulations that took effect statewide in 2015 would apply to projects that were submitted earlier, but had not yet broken ground. In Thursday’s ruling, all nine Supreme Court justices agreed that projects predating mid-2015 would not be protected indefinitely under older, less-strict rules," the paper reported. "The new drainage code differs from the old one by requiring low-impact development whenever feasible. That means more rain gardens, stormwater vaults and permeable pavement for all new development in the county."

A trade tribunal in Canada has upheld punitive duties on drywall shipped from the United States to Canada, CBC News has reported (see: "Trade tribunal says duties must remain on dumped U.S. drywall imports"). "The duties were opposed by American drywall exporters and by the Canadian construction industry, but supported by CertainTeed Gypsum Canada — the only remaining manufacturer of drywall in Western Canada and the company that lodged the dumping complaint," the network reported. Duties add more than $4 to the cost of a 4x12 sheet of drywall, according to the report. The drywall dispute adds to an already complicated U.S.-Canada trade relationship in the building materials industry; the two nations are also at odds over Canadian exports of lumber to the United States, which U.S. producers say are unfairly subsidized (see Bloomberg report: "First Lumber, Now Drywall as Canada-U.S. Trade Tensions Escalate," by Katia Dimitrieva).