E&E News reported the City of Petaluma, CA unanimously recently banned the development of new gas stations and prohibited the expansion of any existing gas station, an unprecedented policy believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S.
While council members say the goal is to move away from fossil fuels and promote the use of environmentally-friendly fuel sources for residents, the ruling could make it much more difficult for residents to fuel their vehicles over the next few years – making them drive further away and wasting even more gas just to fill up.
While this is the first municipal ban on gas stations, it isn’t California’s first attempt at trying to block the use of fossil fuels. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set a goal for the state to phase out the sale of gas cars by 2035, and many automakers are being forced to quit selling gas cars despite the fact that “analysts generally expect gasoline to propel a substantial portion of the nation’s cars for decades.”
The policy has unsurprisingly created concern, as E&E News notes:
James Allison, a spokesperson for the California Fuels & Convenience Alliance, called it “short-sighted and misguided” and said it punishes a key player in the transition to zero-emission transportation.
“Gas stations are the best situated industry to help guide a transition to a more diverse fueling landscape” and have been leaders in installing hydrogen pumps and EV chargers, he wrote in an email to E&E News. Allison declined to say whether his group was considering a legal challenge.
While electric vehicles are a developing, more eco-friendly form of transportation, many Americans cannot yet afford to them. The average price of an electric car is $19,000 higher than the average gasoline-powered car.
Further, according to the EIA, petroleum products accounted for about 91% of the total U.S. transportation sector energy use in 2019. Total gasoline consumption accounted for approximately 58% of total energy consumption across the transportation sector. As much as environmentalists want to rapidly push forward on a renewable energy agenda, fossil fuels remain a vital component of the U.S. energy sector.
Before hurting consumers with kneejerk, short-sighted policies, perhaps it would be wise for local governments to consider the full impact of their decisions.