PSR Helps Win Partial Gas Ban in Seattle February 18, 2021

Seattle, WA is the latest city to limit or ban fossil fuels in new construction.

The Seattle City Council passed, 9-0, a phase-out of methane (“natural” or fracked gas) in new construction of commercial buildings and multifamily housing of four stories or taller.

Washington PSR helped put the ban in place, and chapter member Annemarie Dooley, MD, testified before the City Council, saying, “Public health can’t wait. Every day we delay means more illness and lives lost from air pollution and climate-related heat stress.”

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and its combustion releases nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other conventional pollutants.

The law, which enacts changes in the energy code, will require space heating in new construction to be all-electric by June 1, with new water heaters to be electric-only by the end of the year. Gas stoves will still be allowed.

The new energy code also calls for improvements in the energy efficiency of  windows, insulation, lighting, and ventilation systems.

Gas Industry Pushing Back

The movement to electrify buildings is heating up nationwide. Local bans on new gas hookups have been passed or are in development in towns and cities in California, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington.

The gas industry is pushing back by introducing state-level legislation that would “ban the ban.” Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Louisiana passed bills to that effect in 2020; similar efforts are afoot in Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia and Texas.

Besides Washington PSR, PSR chapters in Boston, Philadelphia, Colorado and Los Angeles are all working to advance equitable building electrification.

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