(Bloomberg) -- Massachusetts’s top law-enforcement officer is asking regulators to investigate the future of natural-gas utilities in the state as it fights climate change.
Attorney General Maura Healey called on the Department of Public Utilities to examine what steps need to be taken as the state weans itself off fossil fuels to help meet its goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a statement Thursday.
“In order to combat the climate crisis and meet our clean energy goals, we must transition away from fossil fuels and change the way gas utilities do business in our state,” Healey said. As homes and businesses rely increasingly on electricity for heat, demand for gas in the state could be near zero by 2050, she said.
The move is the latest wrinkle in America’s fraught relationship with gas. As hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has made it cheap and plentiful, gas has become the dominant fuel for generating electricity in the U.S., forcing hundreds of coal plants to close. Since gas burns cleaner than coal, that’s reduced greenhouse gases.
But environmentalists and some politicians argue the U.S. must move beyond fossil fuels entirely to stave off the worst impacts of global warming. In New York, regulators blocked $1 billion pipeline expansion to bring more gas to the region. And last year, Berkeley, Calif., became the first city to ban gas infrastructure in new buildings, starting in 2020. Similar bills have won approval from municipalities in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Ohio and New York.
Massachusetts gas suppliers include Columbia Gas, which was recently acquired by Eversource Energy in a $1.1 billion deal with NiSource Inc.
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