Local Governments Ban Natural Gas. Goodbye to the Gas Range and Cheaper Heat.

COMMENTARY Coal, Oil, Natural Gas

Local Governments Ban Natural Gas. Goodbye to the Gas Range and Cheaper Heat.

Jul 13th, 2022 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Rachael Wolpert

Research Assistant, Energy, Climate, and Environment

Rachael is a research assistant in the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment at The Heritage Foundation.
Around 177 million Americans use natural gas to heat their homes and cook their meals. Svetlana Repnitskaya / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Natural gas is a relatively clean source of energy.

Unfortunately, 77 other municipalities across the country have introduced or adopted some form of a ban on natural gas hookups under the banner of climate change.

The last thing Americans need is fewer choices. Policymakers should be pursuing policies that unleash our energy potential.

Are you hoping for a shiny gas range in your new home? How about a fireplace as the main attraction of your new living room?

If so, don’t move to Los Angeles, because the city is phasing out natural gas hookups in all new residential and commercial buildings effective Jan. 1, 2023. But LA isn’t alone. It’s California’s 57th locality to introduce commitments to phase out natural gas, and many cities across the country are following suit.

In a misguided effort to reduce emissions, localities that pass ordinances like these totally ignore just how vital natural gas is not only for our broader energy landscape, but also for families and businesses.

Nationwide, natural gas accounts for roughly 38% of electricity generation, and around 177 million Americans use natural gas to heat their homes and cook their meals.

Beyond its prevalence, natural gas is also an affordable source of energy. Residential natural gas is estimated to cost almost one-quarter the price of electricity, which, according to the American Gas Association, adds up to an average annual savings of over $1,000 in household utilities.

And natural gas is a relatively clean source of energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that “burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) than burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy.”

Yet, even with all of these benefits considered, environmental activists would rather push out-of-touch policies that drive up prices for families and businesses and wreak havoc on consumer choice.

For LA restaurant owners, the new ordinance inhibits their ability to expand their businesses, create more jobs, and offer competitive prices for restaurant patrons. Chefs around the city already rely heavily on gas stoves for food preparation. The city’s natural gas ban will discourage businesses from expanding—if new buildings won’t feature gas lines, it is unlikely some businesses will open new locations.

And for restaurant patrons, these restrictions could also mean higher costs, as energy hugely affects food prices. Forcing business owners to shift away from natural gas in favor of all electric appliances—especially in a city where electricity prices already surpass the national average—will only impact food and energy costs more. With prices rising at rates not seen in over 40 years, natural gas bans will only add fuel to the proverbial fire.

Unfortunately, 77 other municipalities across the country have introduced or adopted some form of a ban on natural gas hookups under the banner of climate change. Some cities are even going so far as to require electrification retrofits in existing buildings and new remodels.

Washington became the first state to introduce a statewide mandate that requires all newly constructed buildings to feature electric heating and hot water systems.

And on the East Coast, Maryland’s ambitious Climate Solutions Now Act included a provision that requires the development of all-electric building code recommendations in an effort to achieve the state’s lofty goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

Every jurisdiction is different, but these ordinances all share one thing in common: In eliminating the option for natural gas appliances, they ultimately force consumers to rely on more expensive, less reliable forms of energy.

With oppressive policies like these being considered across the country coupled with the Biden administration’s anti-fossil fuels agenda, it’s no wonder why energy prices have risen over 30% in the last year.

And still, activists would rather strip away a vital resource without regard to the severe economic implications of these policies that acutely impact Americans’ well-being and opportunities and affect our poorest and most vulnerable the most.

The last thing Americans need is fewer choices. Policymakers should be pursuing policies that unleash our energy potential, allow Americans to access affordable energy, help our economy grow, and respect consumer choice.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal