After becoming the first in the nation to ban natural gas hookups in new construction, Berkeley has rescinded the ban.

The Bay Area city will repeal its ban following a settlement it reached with the California Restaurant Association (CRA)—a group that sued them over the ordinance. The 2019 ordinance originally banned natural gas hookups in most new building construction for residential and commercial projects to meet California’s goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

“We are encouraged that the City of Berkeley has agreed to take steps to repeal the ordinance, including immediate nonenforcement of the ban, to remain compliant with federal energy law. Every city and county in California that has passed a similar ordinance should follow their lead,” said CRA President and CEO Jot Condie in a statement.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April 2023 that the Berkeley natural gas ban violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. Judge Patrick Bumatay wrote in the 3-0 decision, “By completely prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping within newly constructed buildings, the City of Berkeley has waded into a domain preempted by Congress.” 

In January 2024, the same court denied the progressive enclave’s petition to hear a modified opinion that claimed the ordinance preempts the EPCA. Last year’s ruling also puts other gas use bans in legal jeopardy

Berkeley isn’t an isolated case. Blue states and municipalities have also enacted bans on natural gas use in new construction. Building Decarbonization Coalition, a group touting zero-emission building ordinances, has a tracker showing 141 jurisdictions across 12 states currently ban natural gas hook-ups. Among those listed is Washington, D.C, which will phase out natural gas use in new buildings on December 31, 2026, pending no legal challenges. 

Alternatively, nearly half of the U.S. has taken preemptive steps to bar their localities and municipalities from banning natural gas hook-ups in new residential and commercial buildings. There are many benefits to natural gas which is why 40 million U.S. households use this energy source today.

Concerning a federal gas stove ban, anti-gas advocates leaned on a faulty study—pushed by the full electrification group Rocky Mountain Institute—that claimed gas stove use is responsible for 12% of childhood asthma cases. Shortly afterward, the Department of Energy announced a new rule to phase out 50% of gas stove models. But after industry representatives, consumer advocates, and grassroots organizers sounded the alarm, the DOE’s finalized rule now affects 3% of gas stoves on the market. 

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