On Tuesday, New York State became the very first state in the US to prohibit the use of natural gas along with other fossil fuels in newly constructed buildings, requiring a transition to renewable sources of electricity and energy once the state’s power infrastructure reaches capacity.
According to the Washington Post:
“New York has become the very first state in the country to pass legislation prohibiting the use of natural gas along with other fossil fuels in the majority of newly constructed buildings, a move that could serve as a model for other states while further eroding the residential future of the gas sector.”
“The law essentially mandates all-electric cooking and heating systems in all newly constructed structures under seven stories by 2026, and taller buildings by 2029. And, while allowing exemptions for manufacturing plants, dining establishments, hospitals, and even for car washes, the bill isn’t doing what a number of climate activists was afraid it would: give counties and cities the authority to overturn the ban.”
“The ban also applies to oil for heating and propane, raising concerns about their future use in New York’s more remote communities.”
According to the Post, natural gas presently provides for 46% of New York’s electricity supply. In addition, the state notoriously prohibited hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” which has spurred a gas and oil boom in nearby Pennsylvania.
The state, which is governed by the Democratic Party, is working to meet its renewable energy goals but lacks California’s abundant sunlight and must turn to offshore wind farms to do so, a strategy that has some environmental concerns.
Consumers in New York are already paying higher costs, in part owing to a shortage of capacity on the electrical system — and experts warn renewable energy initiatives will not be enough to take the place of fossil fuels that are being phased out.
A gas prohibition also poses legal challenges. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a Berkeley, California, ban last month, ruling that federal energy authority supersedes state and municipal laws.