- New York is about to become the nation’s first state to pass a law banning natural gas in most new buildings, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in an April 27 announcement of agreements reached with legislators for the fiscal year 2024 budget.
- Specifics of the law are not yet public, but Hochul said it would take effect in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings.
- A coalition of environmental and social justice advocates said in a statement they worry the law will include a “poison pill” provision backed by the oil and gas industry that would give local governments or other entities the ability to effectively veto it.
After Berkeley, California, became the nation’s first city to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings in 2019, dozens of local governments followed suit, including New York City in 2021. At the state level, Washington state and California have encouraged new building electrification through building codes, but New York would be the first to do so with a law.
By mid-century, New York aims to reduce planet-warming emissions by 85% compared with 1990 levels. Hochul first voiced support for a gas ban in new construction over a year ago, in January of 2022, but the idea was repeatedly blocked by the Democratic speaker of the state Assembly, Carl Heastie, despite finding support in the state Senate, according to Energywire.
“Building all-electric will save New Yorkers money on energy bills, reduce climate-heating pollution, create jobs in clean energy, and reduce childhood asthma, a win-win for New Yorkers,” said Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change and the New York Public Interest Research Group in a statement on Friday.
“Gas bans” have faced pushback nationwide, with the gas industry dedicating millions of dollars to fight local building electrification rules.
Last week, Berkeley’s landmark ordinance prohibiting gas hookups in new construction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, following a lawsuit by the California Restaurant Association arguing the city overstepped federal energy regulations.
That decision was used by New York state Senate Republicans in their arguments against Democrats’ support for the new building electrification law, reports The Washington Post. However, the decision only applies in the Ninth Circuit, which comprises Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Mariana Island.
In Washington state, opponents of the new building codes are also seeking to overturn them through the legal system, filing a lawsuit in February that argues the Washington State Building Code Council overstepped its authority and didn’t account for the costs to homeowners, workers, businesses and developers.
The New York law may face similar opposition. Local governments that pass gas bans “should prepare for litigation because the natural gas industry is fighting for its life,” said Carra Sahler, staff attorney at Lewis & Clark Law School’s Green Energy Institute, in an interview earlier this week.