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New York Passes Gas Ban in New Buildings; Strain on Electricity Grid

New York State became the first state in the nation on Tuesday to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels in new buildings, mandating a shift to renewable energy and electricity as the state’s power grid runs short of capacity.

The Washington Post reported:

New York has become the first state in the nation to pass a law banning natural gas and other fossil fuels in most new buildings, a move that could inspire other states and further erode the residential future of the gas industry.

The law effectively requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026, and in 2029 for taller buildings. And although it allows exemptions for manufacturing facilities, restaurants, hospitals and even carwashes, the measure does not do what some climate activists had feared: give cities and counties license to override the ban.

The ban also extends to heating oil and propane, raising questions about the future of these fuels in New York state’s more rural communities.

Natural gas currently accounts for 46% of New York’s power supply, the Post notes. The state also infamously banned hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which has fueled an oil and gas boom in neighboring Pennsylvania.

Under Democratic Party control, the state is pushing toward renewable energy targets, but lacks the sunshine of California, and has to look offshore to expand wind power — an approach that has its own environmental risks.

New York consumers are already suffering higher prices, partly due to the lack of capacity on the electricity grid — and experts say renewable energy projects are not enough to replace fossil fuels that are being taken offline.

There are also legal problems facing a gas ban. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit tossed a ban by Berkeley, California, saying that federal energy authority preempts state and local authorities.


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