While a political and environmental battle rages over a plan to lay a $1 billion natural-gas pipeline across the floor of New York Bay, the city of Berkeley, California, has become the first in the nation to ban the installation of natural-gas lines in new homes after January 1, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The ordinance, introduced by Councilwoman Kate Harrison, requires all new single-family homes, town homes and small apartment buildings to have electric infrastructure. After its passage, Harrison thanked the community and her colleagues “for making Berkeley the first city in California and the United States to prohibit natural-gas infrastructure in new buildings. It’s an enormous issue. We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate-change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas.”
Her words should resonate in New York City, where buildings produce about two-thirds of the city’s total carbon emissions – which led to the city council’s recent passage of the Climate Mobilization Act, a pioneering law that sets stringent cuts in emission levels in coming years, along with stiff fines for buildings that fail to meet the goals, including co-ops and condos.
Meanwhile, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) shot down a proposal to build a pipeline that would bring Pennsylvania natural gas to New York, citing concerns about possible damage to the city’s waterways. Supporters of the pipeline are fighting to have the ban reversed, and Con Edison and National Grid have imposed moratoriums on future gas hookups in certain areas because pipelines are now operating at maximum capacity.
Environmentalists applauded the DEC’s move, citing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of making New York State carbon-neutral by 2050, meaning all of its electricity needs will be produced by renewable sources, primarily wind and solar. You don’t become reliant on renewable energy, the environmentalists argue, by increasing the supply of fossil fuels. The city council in Berkeley agrees.
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