Judges rule cities cannot ban natural gas, this includes SLO

April 18, 2023


A federal appeals court unanimously struck down Berkeley’s natural gas ban on Monday, an ordinance the San Luis Obispo City Council mimicked even though it was under a legal challenge.

Instead of directly banning gas appliances, which violates the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, Berkeley circumvented the act by prohibiting the construction of gas lines in new construction, according to the ruling. By prohibiting gas lines, Berkeley attempted to displace the authority of the U.S. Congress.

“Instead of directly banning those appliances in new buildings, Berkeley took a more circuitous route to the same result, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Bumatay said in his opinion. “It enacted a building code that prohibits natural gas piping into those buildings, rendering the gas appliances useless.”

In 2019, the SLO City Council voted in favor of enacting a ban on natural gas appliances in new construction. However, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act prohibits local and state governments from prohibiting natural gas appliances, attorney Saro Rizo told the council at the time.

When faced with legal pressure, SLO city officials temporarily suspended their plan to phase out the use of natural gas.

Then in 2020, the council adopted new energy efficiency requirements for constructing buildings with natural gas appliances and incentivized building all-electric structures instead. But many developers still opted to construct mixed-fuel buildings, rather than all-electric.

In turn, last year city officials voted for an outright ban of natural gas lines in new construction, a ban that parroted Berkeley’s natural gas ban. The ban went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

On Tuesday evening, the San Luis Obispo City Council plans to discuss suspending its ban on natural gas infrastructure in new development.

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No surprise to see all the short sighted people on here “thinking big” while lacking imagination.

It’s very feasible to install a reasonable amount of solar panels and batteries to move your entire energy consumption off natural gas and onto far more efficient electric, while saving money in the long term (especially with natural gas prices shooting through the roof and they will only get higher.) Not to mention the safety benefits.