New York is on the cusp of becoming the first state in the nation to pass a law banning natural gas in most new buildings, according to a handshake agreement that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced she and state lawmakers had reached late Thursday.
The law would effectively require that most new buildings go all-electric, jettisoning fossil-fuel-burning appliances in favor of heat pumps and induction stoves for heating and cooking. It is part of a national movement, led by climate advocates, to cut greenhouse gas emissions from homes and businesses by ridding buildings of natural gas, heating oil and propane.
The deal follows weeks of negotiations over a slew of nonfiscal measures included in the New York state budget, which was delayed over disagreements between the governor and the Democrat-led legislature over bail and housing policy. Though its exact terms have not been made public, environmental advocates said the gas ban would take effect in 2026 for most new buildings under seven stories and in 2029 for taller buildings — the timeline the governor had sought.
While some states have used their building codes to restrict natural gas hookups, New York would be the first to apply the ban in state law. Washington was the first to use its building code to mandate all-electric space heating and cooling in new buildings — a step that effectively requires developers to install electric heat pumps. California has also used its building code to encourage electrification.
Gas ban supporters said the state’s agreement is modeled on a law New York City passed two years ago, when it became the largest U.S. city to prohibit gas heat and stoves in new buildings. Dozens of others cities have enacted variations of this measure around the country, beginning on the West Coast in Berkeley, Calif., and spreading to larger cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.
In New York, supporters hope the move could be a bellwether moment for the electrification movement, given the state’s size and its influence on real estate trends nationally.
Across the nation, the natural gas industry and environmental activists have battled over the effectiveness of electric heat pumps, health concerns related to gas stoves and local ordinances banning new gas hookups.
The New York law is likely to face its own legal challenges. Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down the city of Berkeley’s first-in-the-nation gas ban, dealing a potential setback to that California city and 25 others with similar ordinances.
Read More: New York State To Be First To Ban Natural Gas In New Construction