New York poised to pass first statewide law banning natural gas in new buildings
The law would likely take effect in 2026 for most new buildings under seven stories and in 2029 for larger buildings. Following weeks of negotiations, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers included the ban in the $229 billion state budget deal, with a final vote to enact the law anticipated this week.
While other states like California and Washington have used their building codes to advance electrification, New York will be the first state to pass a law to advance zero-emissions new homes and buildings. The statewide ban would follow legislation passed by New York City in 2021 that bans natural gas hookups in new buildings by the end of this year.
New York was the sixth-largest natural gas consumer among the states in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas fuels 46% of the state’s electricity generation. And in 2021, the residential sector — where three out of every five households use natural gas for heating — comprised over one-third of the natural gas delivered to New York residents, the agency found.
The New York state and New York City zero-emissions building legislation would collectively prevent up to 6.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2040 — equivalent to the annual emissions of just over 1.3 million cars, according to studies by the think tank RMI.
“New York state is leading the way in ending America’s devastating addiction to fossil fuels,” said Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp. “The rest of the country must now catch up.”
The law could include exemptions for emergency backup generators, hospitals, laundromats and commercial kitchens, and would not apply to existing residences that use gas-powered appliances. Therefore, the ban wouldn’t curb emissions from existing buildings in New York, which account for roughly 32% of the state’s overall emissions.
A statewide ban would bolster New York’s commitment to source 70% of its electricity from renewables like solar, wind and water power by 2030 and achieve a net-zero emissions electric sector by 2040.
“Our budget prioritizes nation-leading climate action that meets this moment with ambition and the commitment it demands,” Hochul said Thursday during a budget speech in Albany.
Prohibiting natural gas from buildings is part of a national movement to curb climate-changing emissions and transition to clean energy, especially amid mounting concerns over the environmental and health impacts related to gas appliances. Some research has found that children in homes with gas stoves are at greater risk of asthma and other health issues.
While environmental groups have celebrated the impending legislation, Republicans have largely condemned bans on gas in new construction as federal overreach. Oil and gas companies, labor unions and business groups have argued that a ban would trigger higher costs for buildings that use electricity for heat compared to those that use gas.
The mandate may also be unpopular with residents. A recent poll conducted by Siena College found that 53% of all New York respondents said they opposed phasing out gas stoves in new homes.
“Democrats strongly support Hochul’s proposal on prohibiting fossil fuel-burning equipment in most new construction within the next several years, however Republicans and independents are even stronger in their opposition,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
States including Texas and Arizona have blocked cities from implementing natural gas bans, citing that consumers should have the right to choose their energy sources.
New York’s ban is likely to face legal challenges as well.
Last month, for instance, a federal appeals court ruled that Berkeley, California cannot enforce a ban on natural gas hookups in new buildings, saying a U.S. federal law preempts the city’s regulation. That decision could have ramifications for similar efforts by more than a dozen other cities and counties, including San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.