New York City Council members are expected to approve a measure Wednesday banning natural gas hookups for new buildings in an effort to combat climate change.
The prohibition, which Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign into law, would require smaller buildings constructed after 2023 to use electricity rather than oil or natural gas for heating, hot water, stovetops and ovens, the Associated Press reported. The law will apply to larger buildings after 2027 while hospitals and commercial kitchens will be exempt.
“It’s a historic step forward in our efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Ben Furnas, a top climate adviser in de Blasio’s office, according to The New York Times. “If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere.”
De Blasio has supported the legislation for years, arguing it would be key to cutting the city’s reliance on fossil fuels and setting it up for a carbon-free future. The bill would mark the largest effort of its kind in the U.S. to wean residential buildings off oil and natural gas.
“Patterned after that extraordinary retrofit law for our big buildings, we’re going to take the next step,” de Blasio saidduring his February 2020 State of the City address. “For largest buildings in New York City, we will work with the Council on a ban ending the use – over the next two decades, ending the use of oil and gas in our buildings, replacing it with clean electricity.”
But New York City still relies on fossil fuels for about 85% of its electricity.
National Grid, a company that supplies New York City with natural gas, has been a main opponent of the bill, saying it would lead to citywide blackouts as a result of increased demand of electricity, according to the NYT. However, Consolidated Edison, a utility that provides both gas and electricity to the city, said the grid would be able to handle the transition.
Other cities and municipalities — including Brookline, Massachusetts, San Jose, California and Seattle, Washington — have passed similar bans, the NYT reported.
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