New York became the first state in the nation to prohibit natural gas for stoves and other appliances in new construction after lawmakers passed a sweeping budget plan that included the ban.
The proposal was revealed last week by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state’s Democrat-led legislature passed it within a new $229 billion fiscal-year budget Tuesday. The gas ban mirrors similar efforts in select other parts of the country, including New York City and upstate Ithaca, N.Y.
Such proposals have drawn mixed reactions — cheers from environmental groups and younger voters, but criticism from the oil
industry and mostly Republican politicians and energy-state Democrats who’ve latched onto the preservation of gas ovens and cooktops for political leverage.
Critics of such proposals say efforts that back the swapping of popular gas for what can be cleaner-burning electric is simply part of overly “woke” politics.
Related: ‘Woke’ is being used to describe everything and nothing. What does it actually mean?
The New York ban would not apply to existing buildings. And the measure would allow exemptions for facilities that may need to use fossil fuels for emergency backup power, including hospitals.
Already, New York’s Climate Act is among the most ambitious laws of its kind in the nation and requires the populous state to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming, by 40% as soon as 2030. Observers of the electric-stove push have stressed that policies must be mindful that electricity is only as “green” as the energy source creating that power. For instance, coal-generated electricity has a much larger impact on global warming than nuclear or wind-generated electricity. Modernization of the U.S. electric grid and the slow transition to cleaner power must also be considered when cities push for electric appliances and electric vehicles, critics remind.
New York City’s own gas ban will apply to new structures under seven stories tall starting in 2024, and to larger buildings in 2027. New York City and State measures are significant not only because of population numbers, but also because of their colder climate, which can necessitate several sources of fuel to meet demand.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court overturned what was Berkeley, Calif.’s first-in-the-nation city ban on natural gas in new construction. That measure, which took effect in 2020, banned new residential and commercial buildings, with some exceptions, from installing natural gas piping in favor of electrical lines.
Read: ‘It’s insulting. It’s sacrilege’: Asian Americans react to prospect of federal ban on gas stoves due to emissions and health risks
A lawsuit by the California Restaurant Association claimed the regulation by a city violated federal law that gives the U.S. government authority to set energy-efficiency standards for appliances such as stoves, furnaces and water heaters.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected a lower court judge’s decision two years ago that had upheld the Berkeley ordinance. But this month, Judge Patrick Bumatay wrote in the 3-0 Ninth Circuit ruling that a local ordinance that bans appliances such as gas stoves “impacts the quantity of energy” they consume, which is regulated by the federal government.
At least 42 cities in California, including San Francisco and San Jose, have acted to limit gas in new buildings. Salt Lake City and Denver have also made plans to move toward electrification. And notably, Ithaca, N.Y., recently took the step to convert all of its buildings, not just new construction, to heat pumps and electric ranges over gas.
Some 20 mostly Republican-led states have passed laws barring cities and counties from blocking gas hookups.
Gas stove action sparked even louder debate in Washington and elsewhere earlier this year when a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated that fresh scrutiny of gas stoves, particularly for health concerns, by the agency was likely. The CPSC, an independent body that can only rule on new products, eventually clarified it was opening a period of greater research but had no new regulations or bans in the works.
Related: No gas-stove ban, says safety group pushing more health testing
Fresh scrutiny of the gas cooking method used in about 40% of U.S. households also stems from two recent studies sourced to Harvard and Stanford Universities. One examined respiratory ailments, such as childhood asthma, and certain cancer risks linked to gas-stove use, as well as research on their contribution to global warming from the greenhouse gases that the combustion of natural gas and other fossil fuels releases into the atmosphere.
The gas industry has said the studies aren’t comprehensive enough and has launched efforts to teach households how to better ventilate.