New York City is banning natural gas connections for new buildings

Protesters are seen holding banners calling for a stop to the Williams natural gas pipeline (aka ‘Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline (NESE)’) during a demonstration held on St. Center near City Hall Park in New York City.

Michael Brochstein | LightRocket | beautiful pictures

The New York City Council on Wednesday voted to pass legislation banning the use of natural gas in most new construction, a move that would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from climate change. climate from the country’s most populous city.

The bill is now forwarded to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desk for signature. Once signed, the measure will enter into force at the end of 2023 for some buildings under seven stories and in 2027 for taller buildings. Hospitals, commercial kitchens and laundromats are exempt from the ban.

By law, construction projects submitted for approval after 2027 must use sources such as electricity for stoves, fireplaces and water boilers instead of gas or oil. Existing residents with gas stoves and fireplaces in their homes will not be affected unless they move to a new building.

New York City buildings account for about 70% of its greenhouse gases. Today’s ban will likely boost New York State’s requirement to get 70% of its electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind and water by 2030 and achieve zero-emissions electricity. in 2040.

“If the largest city in America can take this important step to ban gas use, any city can,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “This is how to fight climate change on a local level and ensure a green city for generations to come.”

The bill would cut about 2.1 million tons of carbon emissions by 2040 – equivalent to the annual emissions of 450,000 cars – and save consumers several hundred million dollars in new gas connections. , according to a Research by RMI consulting agency.

Climate advocates stand next to a banner before a rally at City Hall Park to celebrate the passage of a bill to end gas use in new buildings in Manhattan, New York City, United States United, December 15, 2021. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly


The ban would also reduce the risk of gas explosions and reduce exposure to air pollution that poses a health risk to residents, especially low-income communities of color. disproportionately exposed to pollution.

Similar policies have been debated across the country. Several dozen cities, including San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose in California; Cambridge, Mass.; and Seattle, has moved to ban natural gas extraction in some new buildings as a way to combat climate change.

However, states like Texas and Arizona have banned cities from making such changes, on the grounds that consumers have the right to choose their energy sources.

Real estate groups, the oil and gas sector and the national grid – the natural gas supply to the city – have strongly opposed the bill, arguing that it would cause a possible increase in electricity demand. lead to power outages in winter.

Opponents also argue that the law will make it more expensive for buildings that use electricity for heating than those that use natural gas.

“The real estate industry is committed to working with policymakers to develop policies,” said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade association for the city’s real estate sector. It has been shown to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the built environment.

“While we appreciate the efficient electrification of buildings as a key component to achieving these goals, these policies must be implemented in a way that ensures that New Yorkers have a reliable, affordable, carbon-free electricity to heat, cool and power their homes, and Whelan said.

Michael Giaimo, Northeast Regional Director for the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas lobbying group, said the bill “passed through the legislative process in haste without consideration, full analysis or debate.”

“With time and additional research, we believe the Council will better appreciate the impact of increased electrification and the importance of a diverse energy mix,” said Giaimo. “Hydrogen and renewable natural gas can play an important role in further advancing the city’s emissions reduction goals while maintaining affordability and maintaining consumer choice. “

Con Edison, the city’s other major utility company that provides electricity in addition to gas, was a proponent of the bill along with several sustainability groups and energy analysts. Proponents argue that the city’s grid is well equipped to handle the surge in electricity demand.

Environmental groups held a vote on Wednesday and called on New York state and the country to follow in its footsteps.

“America’s largest city takes climate change very seriously and proves it today,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Regional Director for the environmental group Food & Water Watch.

“With a gas-free NYC, we can deliver better public health outcomes and make real strides toward cutting climate-warming emissions,” Beauchamp said. “Next, New York State and the nation must follow.” New York City is banning natural gas connections for new buildings

Emma James

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