Jan 10, 2023
New York’s Hochul Proposes Banning Gas in New Buildings
(Bloomberg) -- Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing to make New York the first state in the US to ban natural gas heating and appliances in new buildings as a way to fight climate change, the latest salvo in a nationwide fight over the fuel.
Hochul called during her state-of-the-state address Tuesday to ban the use of fossil fuels by 2025 for newly built smaller structures and 2028 for larger ones. New York would also prohibit the sale of any new fossil-fuel heating systems starting in 2030. “Buildings are the largest source of emissions in our state, accounting for a third of our greenhouse gas output,” Hochul said in her prepared remarks.
The widespread shift to running power plants on natural gas instead of coal helped curb US carbon dioxide emissions in the last decade. But now the fuel — whose chief component, methane, is itself a potent greenhouse gas — has come under attack from environmentalists and public officials who see banning it from buildings as a necessary step to slashing emissions and protecting public health.
Gas appliances, including the stoves beloved by cooks, leak both methane and nitrogen oxides — pollutants that can trigger asthma and other breathing problems. Cities including New York and San Francisco have enacted bans on gas appliances in new buildings in recent years, and California is weighing its own statewide proposal that would take effect in 2030.
The gas industry and its political allies have pushed back, with more than 20 states implementing laws that prevent cities from adopting such bans. The industry considers health fears over home gas use unfounded and insists that banning the fuel will drive up monthly bills for consumers.
“Any efforts to ban highly efficient natural gas stoves should raise alarm bells for the 187 million Americans who depend on this essential fuel every day,” said Richard Meyer, vice president of energy markets and analysis for the American Gas Association, in an email Tuesday. While Hochul's proposal does not mention gas stoves explicitly, it does call for ending “on-site fossil fuel combustion” within new, smaller buildings by 2025.
Also Read: Gas Stove Ban Is on US Safety Agency's Agenda Amid Health Fears
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission may consider a nationwide ban on gas stoves, one of the agency’s commissioners told Bloomberg News this week. That prompted an angry response from Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, who called the potential move “a recipe for disaster” in a tweet Tuesday. “The federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
At the same time, many of the states hit hardest by the Christmas Eve blackouts during a brutal cold snap have grown increasingly reliant on electricity for home heating, adding strain to the power grid.
The language of Hochul’s proposal appears to ban the use of multiple fuels, including gas, propane and oil. The idea of ending fossil fuel use in low-rise residential buildings was part of a broader global warming plan issued in December by the state’s Climate Action Council. The plan’s recommendations, however, weren’t legally binding. Also Read: Big Growth in Electric Heat Set Stage for US South Blackouts
The Real Estate Board of New York trade association stopped short of endorsing Hochul’s proposal, saying it remained focused on the long-range goal of decarbonizing buildings. “We look forward to working with City and State officials to develop a coordinated and achievable framework for advancing our shared objectives on this increasingly vital issue,” Senior Vice President of Policy Zach Steinberg said in an email.
Hochul on Tuesday also called for creating a cap-and-trade system for reining in greenhouse gas emissions across New York State’s economy.
Such systems place a declining annual limit on greenhouse gas emissions and force companies to buy permits for each ton they emit. New York already belongs to a limited cap-and-trade system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which covers emissions from power plants across several northeastern states.
California so far is the only US state to use this kind of carbon market to control emissions across most of its economy, and so far, the Golden State’s system has had limited success. Hochul said proceeds from the program would be invested in other efforts to cut greenhouse gases, with the goal of lowering the state’s emissions 40% by 2030 and at least 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.
--With assistance from Katherine Chiglinsky.
(Adds comments from Senator Joe Manchin in eighth paragraph.)
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