New York is on track to become the first state in the country to ban natural gas in new buildings, with Democratic leaders in the legislature and governor's mansion pledging their support for the controversial policy.
Legislators in the State Assembly and Senate included different versions of the ban—which would effectively require new buildings to use electric heating and stoves instead of natural gas—in their budget proposals, E&E News reported Thursday. Democratic leaders in both chambers support the policy, as does Governor Kathy Hochul (D.), who touted the statewide ban in January. "We are taking these steps now because climate change remains the greatest threat to our planet, and to our children and grandchildren," she said.
Should New York finalize the ban, it would become the first state in the country to ban natural gas in new buildings. The anticipated move comes amid a political firestorm over gas stoves, which federal regulator Richard Trumka Jr.—a Biden administration appointee—ignited in January when he threatened to ban the appliance. "Any option is on the table," Trumka said after calling gas stoves a "hidden hazard." "Products that can't be made safe can be banned," he said.
While the White House quickly distanced itself from those comments, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the president "does not support banning gas stoves," the Biden administration went on to target gas stoves with climate change-focused regulations. In February, for example, President Joe Biden's Energy Department released an analysis acknowledging that its proposed cooking appliance efficiency regulations would ban half of all gas stoves on the U.S. market from being sold. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also voted earlier this month to seek public input on gas stoves, a move that Trumka called "an important milestone on the road to protecting consumers from potential hidden hazards in their homes—the emissions from gas stoves."
New York's prospective ban will almost certainly prompt fierce pushback from Republicans, who argue that such policies mark a desire from Democrats "to control every aspect of your life." Climate activists, however, are hopeful that a natural gas ban in New York would help make the policy more popular and convince other states to follow suit.
"If New York state is able to pass a building electrification requirement at this scale," Columbia University senior fellow Amy Turner told Politico, "it will show other states around the country that this is not so scary, that it's politically possible, it's technically possible."