Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association against the California Building Standards Commission and other state agencies, ordered the inclusion of PEX plastic pipe into the California Plumbing Code. The judge agreed that the state agencies had acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in excluding PEX from the state's plumbing code.

The suit was filed on behalf of PEX pipe manufacturers and PPFA members Vanguard Industries, Uponor Wirsbo and Zurn PEX Plumbing and Radiant Heating Systems (formerly Qest Hydronics). It sought to overturn California's adoption of an updated plumbing code on May 2, 2002, which deleted PEX from the code pending an environmental review in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

In a decision handed down in late December, the judge found that the California Environmental Quality Act could not be used to exclude PEX because PEX is a "product" and not a "project" under state law.

But the industry isn't out of the woods yet. There is potential for an appeal by the building commission and the five state agencies that advise it on code adoption - the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Division of the State Architect, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Department of Health Services and the Department of Food and Agriculture.

There is no indication at this time that they will appeal the ruling, said Dick Church, executive director of the PPFA.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development's Chief Counsel Richard Friedman said that no appeal decision has been made yet. The agencies have 60 days from the official judgement to file an appeal.