California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

1 minute read

May 28, 2024, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

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After a federal court ruling struck down the city of Berkeley’s ban on natural gas appliances in new buildings, other cities in the San Francisco Bay Area are suspending active or proposed natural gas bans. “A panel of judges ruled that Berkeley cannot prohibit natural gas due to a pre-existing federal energy law.”

As Stephanie Lam explains in the East Bay Times, jurisdictions that have temporarily suspended their bans include Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and San Mateo County, as well as San Luis Obispo on the central coast.

While the ruling technically doesn’t affect cities that took a “building code-based approach,” such as Sunnyvale, some of those cities are voluntarily suspending their bans to avoid litigation. “Sunnyvale city spokesperson Jennifer Garnett said the city has other measures besides its suspended gas ban to encourage electric infrastructure, including allowing residential and commercial projects with all-electric designs to increase their floor area ratio.”

Natural gas has been shown to have a significant negative impact on indoor air quality, while environmentalists say all-electric buildings are key to helping the state meet its zero-carbon goal.

Monday, May 27, 2024 in East Bay Times

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