New York moves to become first state banning natural gas hookups

New York state leaders led by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul reached an agreement late Thursday on the state’s 2024 budget which includes a future ban on natural gas hookups in new building construction. Under the budget deal, natural gas hookups will be banned in small buildings beginning in 2025 and large buildings beginning in 2028, according to Hochul. The governor said in remarks that the budget insulates households from “exorbitant energy bills” while helping the state build a “more sustainable future.” “Everyone knows we’ve seen the effects of climate change — the storms, the hurricanes coming to New York, record snow amounts. We’re seeing the effects every single day. Not just here, but across the nation,” Hochul told reporters. “Our budget prioritizes nation-leading climate action that meets this moment with ambition and the commitment it demands.” “We’re going to be the first state in the nation to advance zero-emission new homes and buildings beginning in 2025 for small buildings, 2028 for large buildings,” she continued. “And we have more to do.” CALIFORNIA’S GRID FACES COLLAPSE AS LEADERS PUSH RENEWABLES, ELECTRIC VEHICLES, EXPERTS SAY In addition, the budget will expand the New York Power Authority’s authority over renewable energy development and fossil fuel power shutdowns. Both the New York Power Authority and New York Independent System Operator have warned such a proposal could be detrimental to the state’s electric grid. “I promised New Yorkers we’d make our state more affordable, more livable and safer, and this budget delivers on that promise,” Hochul added in a statement.  “I am pleased to have reached an agreement with Speaker Heastie and Leader Stewart-Cousins on a transformative budget that improves public safety, transforms our mental health care system, protects our climate and invests in our children’s future,” she said. BIDEN ADMIN RECEIVES BACKLASH FROM NEARLY TWO DOZEN GROUPS FOR MOVE CRACKING DOWN ON GAS STOVES While the budget would make New York the first state to pursue a statewide natural gas hookup ban, several Democratic-led cities including New York City have already implemented gas appliance restrictions while some states like California have tackled the issue through modified building codes.  Berkeley, California, became the first jurisdiction to implement such a ban in 2019. However, a federal appeals panel recently ruled that the city’s ban violated the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 in a potential blow to similar laws across the country.  Overall, in 2021, about 60% of all New York households relied on natural gas for heating while another 20% used heating oil, according to the Energy Information Administration. Additionally, just 14% of households in the state were heated with electricity, the vast majority of which was generated by natural gas power plants. “At the precipice of global climate disaster, it’s long past time to stop building new buildings that burn fossil fuels for heat and hot water,” a coalition of environmental groups led by Earthjustice said in a joint statement Friday morning.  “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. It is also politically popular, with New Yorkers overwhelmingly in support,” it continued. The coalition — which also included Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change and New York Public Interest Research Group — said, on its face, the budget “will be an enormous victory.” But the coalition also warned the details are not yet known and urged leaders to “set this historic win into place as the nation’s first state law ending gas in new construction.” “New Yorkers are watching carefully to make sure the final budget includes real action and doesn’t defer to the gas lobby. New Yorkers don’t want a big announcement that turns out to be a sham,” the groups added. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently accepting public feedback on the health impacts of gas stoves, but has denied that it intends to ban the appliance. A member of the commission said in January that he wouldn’t rule out a federal ban, sparking outcry from Republicans and ultimately forcing the White House to say it wouldn’t support such an action.
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