US cities banning natural gas connections to new buildings in an all-electric shift, increasing burdens on the power grid

US cities banning natural gas connections to new buildings in an all-electric shift, increasing burdens on the power grid

A number of cities in the U.S. have proposed banning natural gas lines in new buildings. The moves to prohibit gas connections in new developments are linked to efforts to slash carbon emissions. However, parties against these bans on natural gas have talen to state legislatures to express their opposition. Meanwhile, other places have taken a middle-ground approach by allowing natural gas connections for certain purposes only.

The fight for natural gas first began in 2019 – when city leaders in Berkeley, California passed an ordinance banning natural gas connections in new construction. The progressive city’s ordinance spread like wildfire to other California cities, eventually reaching far areas such as Seattle and Denver. Now, 42 cities in the Golden State have passed bans or severe restrictions on natural gas. The California Energy Commission could pass a state-wide ban amid its update of state building codes.

But opponents of natural gas bans were also at work behind the scenes. They have lobbied a number of states to pass laws limiting natural gas bans in certain cities. Their efforts have paid off in four states as of writing – Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Denver made concessions on the use of natural gas for certain purposes. The Colorado city is working on a plan that would continue the use of gas for cooking, while banning it for heating on new buildings. Under the plan, new developments in Denver will only be permitted to use electricity for home heating.

Seattle also followed Denver’s footsteps by adopting a partial gas ban in February. This ban focused on larger structure, with the city’s building code being updated to reflect the move. All new commercial and multi-family buildings standing four stories or taller to be built in Seattle must use electricity for heating. However, the ban does not police the use of gas for heating in smaller buildings and houses. The prohibition also excludes natural gas being utilized for cooking.

Natural gas is in the crosshairs of environmental advocates after coal

Environment advocates and the gas industry are in conflict over the future of natural gas. Those against the energy source want to make it “the new coal” and accelerate its demise, while natural gas supporters insist that the bans are products of fringe politics that will never reach the mainstream. The gas industry meanwhile responded to the laws in a seemingly contradictory fashion. It downplayed the dangers of natural gas, yet pledged to cut emissions and plug gas leaks.

University of California, Berkeley business professor Lucas Davis said: “You’re seeing more cities in states where [banning natural gas] is possible … and you’re seeing more states take pre-emptive measures. It’s becoming more front-of-mind for policymakers all over.”

The initial four states that struck down natural gas bans do not have emissions reduction as part of their agenda. Many of the 12 states aiming to follow their footsteps argue that restricting possible energy sources would be unfair to their residents.

Indiana State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-20) said last February: “I think it’s very unfair to our constituents, any of them, to take away any source of energy.” The Republican state lawmaker noted that most cities that have adopted the natural gas bans are located in California. Pressel made the remarks amid a debate at the Indiana House of Representatives for his bill banning the natural gas bans: It eventually passed the lower chamber.

The gas industry has also went on the defensive through organizations such as the American Gas Organization and the binational Northwest Gas Association. Both groups have responded to the legislative challenges by downplaying the environmental impact of natural gas. But interestingly, they have also pledged to cut emissions by mixing fossil fuels with cleaner fuels and improving how leaks in the gas supply chain are addressed.

Some other groups have reached out to people to fight the natural gas bans instituted in the Golden State. The Power Florida Forward campaign made use of a flyer that said: “Don’t bring failed California policies to Florida.” The campaign conducted by the Florida Gas Association urged support for a proposal in the Sunshine State preventing cities from banning natural gas connections.

Check out Power.news to read more news about bans on natural gas use.

(Article by Ramon Tomey republished from Citizens.news)

Planet Today

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