New York State Natural Gas Measure sets up Legal Showdown

Included in New York governor Kathy Hochul’s $229 billion fiscal year budget is a measure that would prohibit natural gas and other fossil fuel hookups in new residential buildings and some new commercial buildings. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the measure would go into effect in 2026 for buildings seven stories and under and in 2029 for taller buildings.”

The gas stove debate reached a boiling point this past January when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) was considering a ban on new natural gas stoves. In response to the backlash, CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. had to clarify on twitter that the agency wasn’t “coming for anyone’s gas stoves.” Similarly, the White House had to say that President Biden did not support the ban at the time.

While environmentalists in New York celebrated the new law, they also urged that the measure did not go far enough to meet climate pledges and his greenhouse-gas emission standards. In response to the ban, state Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “the energy plan that Albany leaders are proposing is far too intrusive, not to mention unaffordable, unsafe and unrealistic.”

Although New York is the first in the country to include this ban in state law, many municipalities across the country have introduced similar measures. In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a Berkeley California ordinance “banning natural-gas lines in new construction illegally interferes with federal law.” The Berkeley ban was adopted in 2019 and was the first such measure in the U.S. to prohibit natural gas lines in new buildings.

With the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in April, legal challenges are sure to follow New York state’s new ban. During debate on the measure in New York, republicans in the legislature cited the ruling, making it clear that the measure’s legality would be shaky if it were enacted.

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