The San Francisco Bay Area has declared war on gas appliances

San Francisco Bay Area regulators on Wednesday approved a de facto ban on new home furnaces and water heaters that burn natural gas — but not gas-fired stoves — as states, cities and political parties fight over the future of gasoline.

Regional air pollution regulators have largely approved the forfeited, which will take effect in several periods from 2027 to 2031 depending on the size and type of equipment. Notably, the measure does not target gas-burning stoves, which emerged as a cultural flashpoint in the debate about phasing out the use of fossil fuels at home.

The gas industry and many Republicans say the gas restrictions raise costs for homeowners while infringing on their right to heat their homes and cook when they want. Climate activists consider replacing gas appliances with electric ones a necessary step in the fight against climate change, and they see the new rules in the Bay Area as one way to do so. this.

Regulations from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District focus on furnaces and water heaters and the air pollution they create, especially nitrogen oxides (NOx). Produced when gas is burned, NOx is a component of smog and can worsen asthma and cardiovascular problems. The district estimates gas-burning furnaces and water heaters produce more NOx each year than all the cars in the region. Water heaters and furnaces sold in the Bay Area must emit no NOx by the implementation dates, effectively forcing homeowners to buy electric heaters or heat pumps.

The requirement has some residents worried that, if their water heaters or furnaces suddenly break, they’ll be forced to pay more for a replacement power supply — if they can find one readily available. District board member Ray Mueller said that while he supports the idea, the requirement could be burdensome for homeowners, especially if moving electric appliances forces them to upgrade the electrical panel. and wiring in their house.

“Really, what I think is missing from this discussion is the fact that there is a middle class out there that is really hurting,” said Mueller, a San Mateo county supervisor who abstained from voting on the measure. .

Most of the board members, however, said that by setting the requirement years in the future, the district will send a clear signal to the market to offer more models of heat pumps and electric water heaters, which lowers the price. The measure also requires board members to review the market situation two years before the first implementation deadline, which they can adjust if necessary.

“Necessity is the mother of invention, so what we’re doing is creating necessity and the market will respond,” said board member Juan Gonzalez, mayor of the city of San Leandro.

Despite the scale of the area, many gas-burning furnaces and water heaters in the Bay Area will continue to run for decades to come, said Leah Louis-Prescott, with RMI’s climate and energy think tank. Homeowners will still be able to repair their old, gas-burning appliances after 2031.

“This is to ensure that consumers buy a cleaner appliance and avoid locking in decades of pollution,” said Louis-Prescott, who is with RMI’s carbon-free buildings team. “It’s not so much a ban — it’s a gradual withdrawal, as your equipment breaks down.”

The gas debate has raged for years in the Bay Area, home to more than 7 million people. Berkeley officials in 2019 passed the first ordinance in the country banning gas hooks in new buildings. San Francisco and other cities across the country followed suit, along with New York City adopted its own ban in 2021 and Governor Kathy Hochul this year called for a statewide version. The gas industry and its political allies are pushing back, with at least 20 states passing laws that prevent their municipalities from restricting gasoline use.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *