Story at a glance
- The use of natural gas contributes to air pollution and could threaten the gains made in the fight against climate change.
- California this week implemented a plan aimed at phasing out the use of natural gas heaters across the state by 2030.
- Environmentalists hope the move will lead to other countries implementing similar bans.
A new proposal by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has recognized the state as the first to ban natural gas heaters and furnaces.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously, aims to end sales of water heaters and water heaters by 2030.
This commitment is part of a broader set of environmental efforts the Board of Directors approved this week to meet federal standards of 70 parts per billion, and the 8-hour ozone standard over the next 15 years.
“While this strategy will clean the air for all Californians, it will also reduce emissions in many low-income and disadvantaged communities experiencing higher levels of persistent air pollution,” CARB President Leanne Randolph said in a statement.
California’s residential and commercial buildings account for nearly five percent of the state’s total nitrogen oxide emissions from natural gas combustion, according to the plan originally proposed, released in August 2022.
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In addition, space and water heating make up nearly 90 percent of the total natural gas demand associated with buildings.
When burned, natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. However, natural gas leaks pose health risks to homeowners, as it contains varying levels of volatile chemicals linked to cancer.
Leah Lewis Prescott, senior fellow at RMI, a nonprofit focused on the transition to clean energy, told Bloomberg about the decision.
The new regulations will rely on the adoption of heat pump technologies, which are sold to electrify new and existing homes.
Although the proposal does not include gas stoves, many cities and towns in the state currently ban or discourage the use of gas stoves in new buildings.
The California Public Utilities Commission also eliminated subsidies for new natural gas networks last week, becoming the first state to do so. This move will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower utility bills for consumers.
Randolph praised the state’s steps toward achieving the ozone standard, but stressed the need for more federal action to reach the goal.
“California needs more federal action to remove harmful diesel pollution from primarily federally controlled sources, from locomotives and ocean-going ships to aircraft, all of which are concentrated in communities that continue to bear the brunt of poor air quality,” Randolph said.
“We simply cannot provide clean air to Californians without the federal government doing its part.”
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