History at a glance
- The use of natural gas contributes to air pollution and could jeopardize gains made in combating climate change.
- This week, California implemented a plan to phase out natural gas heating appliances statewide by 2030.
- Environmentalists hope the move will lead other states to impose similar bans.
A new proposal passed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) makes the state the first to ban natural gas heaters and stoves.
The unanimous decision aims to phase out the sale of space heaters and water heaters by 2030.
This commitment is part of a broader set of environmental measures taken by the board of directors this week to meet the federal standard of 70 ppb at 8-hour ozone for the next 15 years.
“While this strategy will clean the air for all Californians, it will also result in emission reductions in many low-income and disadvantaged communities that experience higher levels of persistent air pollution,” CARB chairperson Liane Randolph said in a statement.
Under the original proposed plan, published in August 2022, residential and commercial buildings in California account for approximately five percent of the state’s total nitrous oxide emissions from natural gas combustion.
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In addition, space heating and water account for almost 90 percent of all building-related natural gas demand.
When burned, natural gas releases less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. However, natural gas leaks pose a health risk to homeowners because they contain varying levels of volatile cancer-causing chemicals.
“We really hope this is the start of a domino effect and other states will follow California’s lead,” said Lea Louis-Prescott, senior fellow at RMI, a non-profit organization dedicated to the clean energy transition. solution.
The new rules will be based on the introduction of heat pump technology, which is being sold to electrify new and existing homes.
Although the proposal does not include gas stoves, several cities in the state currently prohibit or discourage the use of gas stoves in new buildings.
The California Public Utilities Commission also removed subsidies for new natural gas connections last week, becoming the first state to do so. The move will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower utility bills for consumers.
Randolph praised the state’s moves to reach the ozone standard, but stressed that more federal action is needed to achieve that goal.
“California needs more federal action to clean up harmful diesel pollution from sources largely under federal control, from locomotives and ocean-going vessels to aircraft, which are concentrated in communities that continue to bear the brunt of poor air quality,” Randolph said.
“We simply cannot provide Californians with clean air without the involvement of the federal government.”