New York could soon become the first state in the nation to ban natural gas in new construction under a budget deal announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The plan, unveiled Thursday night, is a priority for environmental groups, who see it as an important step toward reducing New York’s dependence on fossil fuels and helping it meet its emissions reduction goals. But it was opposed by the oil and gas industry and treated with suspicion by some consumers.
Environmental groups warned that the plan’s details were still unclear and said they were concerned there could be a provision that would allow local governments to effectively veto the measure. But Katy Zielinski, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said Friday that no such measure was included in the agreement.
“There will be no loopholes in the new law that would undermine the intent of this measure,” Ms. Zielinski said. “Municipalities will have no choice but to opt out.”
It was part of a $229 billion state budget deal announced by the governor that delayed the budget by nearly a month after weeks of heated negotiations. State lawmakers are expected to vote on the deal next week.
The New York ban would be a significant expansion of a nationwide movement aimed at tackling climate change in part by reducing gas and oil use. Previous city-level bans have been enacted in left-leaning states including California, Massachusetts and Washington.
Mrs. Hochul said on Thursday that the agreement was a “conceptual agreement” whose broad strokes would “need to be fine-tuned” before a final vote could be taken. The proposed ban does not apply to existing buildings.
Ms. Zielinski said the measure would allow exemptions for facilities that need to use fossil fuels for emergency backup power, including hospitals and laboratories. He said the governor’s office is still “figuring out” how the measure will be applied to new construction in areas off the grid.
“We’re still looking at reliability issues, so if there’s a plan to build a new building after 2025 and there’s no electricity in that region, how do we deal with that?” she said. “We don’t want to build new buildings if the local grid doesn’t have power.”
The idea of banning gas hookups in new construction has been derided by Republicans across the country and in New York as an overreach of government. It adds to the budget agreement that Ms. Criticized by Hochul’s opponents, Lee Seldin is a former congressman whom he defeated last November to secure his first full term.
“Democrats pushing New York to the ground excitedly to ban new construction gas lines statewide” he said on Twitter. “Kathy Hochul and her colleagues are fast-tracking the downward spiral of a once-great state.”
A similar ban enacted by New York City in 2021 will go into effect in December, banning gas hookups in all new buildings under seven stories, requiring all-electric heating and cooking. The measure will not apply to tall buildings until 2027.
Natural gas is widely used in the United States. According to the US Department of Energy61 percent of American households used natural gas for space heating, water heating or cooking in 2020, the most recent year.
That number is higher in the Northeast, where 67 percent of households use gas 52 percent households In New York State.
In addition to the environmental concerns raised by such widespread use of natural gas, some health experts have argued that using it at home, especially when cooking, may pose a health risk to consumers.
When burning, gas stoves, like a car or boat, release toxic gases called nitrogen oxides, which irritate the respiratory system and are thought to trigger asthma. when it is there No consensus on safety standards For indoor exposure to nitrogen oxides, A study published last year It was found that a cook using a gas stove could quickly exceed the national standard for safe outdoor exposure.
Debate at the federal level about the potential health and environmental risks of gas stoves has drawn backlash in recent months from consumer and industry groups. In January, a White House spokesman said President Biden did not support a nationwide ban.
On Friday, environmental advocates said they would hold their applause until the Legislature votes on the final deal.
“New Yorkers are paying close attention that the final budget includes real action and not deferring to the gas lobby,” #GasFreeNY, a statewide advocacy group that campaigned for the gas ban, said in a statement. “On the face of it, this would be a colossal success, but the devil is in the details.”