Cities in largely liberal states like California and Massachusetts have been looking at proposals that will either limit or ban the use of natural gas outright in residential and commercial buildings. It could have an impact that extends from the stoves in people’s homes to the systems that heat skyscrapers.
Some areas have already adopted such laws, with Berkeley, California, banning gas systems in new construction. The ordinance was approved by the city council there unanimously, which is not surprising in a place like Berkeley. Cities like Seattle and Los Angeles are now expected to follow suit.
Meanwhile, San Jose is poised to become the nation’s biggest city to ban natural gas from new homes after the City Council there this month approved a proposal to create an ordinance that would see the end of using natural gas in new single-family homes, multifamily buildings and detached flats. Similar efforts are underway in places like Santa Monica and Menlo Park.
The reasoning behind this ill-advised ban? Some environmentalists are saying that the unburned gas that leaks from pipes and compressor stations causes serious harm to the environment – a complete turnaround from their past stance that it burns cleaner than coal and oil. In fact, widespread gas bans would disrupt many of the world’s energy giants, who have been making huge investments in natural gas based on the idea that it could drive the transition to cleaner energy.
Like many of the ideas that climate change alarmists latch onto, this one seems particularly poorly thought-out. What happens when people can no longer use natural gas stoves in their homes? They still have to cook, so most will have little choice but to rely on electric burners, which are still largely powered by coal in many places. How is that any better?
Natural gas is a relatively clean, efficient and versatile common fuel that emits very little of the carbon dioxide that climate change alarmists love to hate, Moreover, gas burners heat up instantly and give cooks far better control over the temperatures they’re using, which can make them more energy efficient.
Of course, natural gas is far from perfect. Methane leaks can be an issue – and let’s not get started on the fracking process that is sometimes used to extract it, which is another topic entirely. But it’s not even clear whether banning it would have much of an impact either way, with the U.S. Department of Energy estimating that cooking makes up just 4.5 percent of the energy people use in their homes.
It’s such a small portion of the carbon emissions in a home that it makes you wonder why they aren’t focusing their efforts elsewhere if they really want to help the environment. And should a ban apply to existing buildings, what would the material and financial costs be of ripping out the old gas stoves and replacing them with electric ones?
Once again, it is important to carefully consider every angle before jumping on the latest “green” impulse, or we could end up causing even more damage to the environment.
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