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A Denver suburb voted to ban new gas stations from being built in the name of combatting climate change.
The city council of Louisville, Colorado, about 30 minutes north of Denver and 20 minutes East of Boulder, voted unanimously to approve a city ordinance that would cap the number of gas stations allowed in the city at 6, meaning just one more gas station would be allowed. But that new gas station, and any other that are built under the cap must meet strict requirements.
The ordinance limits the number of gas or automobile service stations within the city limits to 6, including existing gas stations and other approved by the city council but not yet built. The cap may increased to 7, but only if a large retail center – like a Sam’s Club or a Costco – builds a store of 80,000 or more square feet that includes a gas station as an accessory.
The ordinance also imposes strict limits on planning approvals. Approvals expire if a building permit is not issued within 36 months. If a gas station closes for 12 months, then a new plan must be submitted that meets current city standards. The city will only review new plans for gas stations if there are less than 6 stations.
Furthermore, any new gas stations must be built further than 1000 feet away from an existing station, though that rule can be waived if the station belongs to a retail center. A newly-built station, or an expansion to an existing one, must include building electric vehicle charging stations; equal to about 20% the total number of gas pumps at the station, but no less than two.
A report accompanying the ordinance said that one of the reasons behind the move was to encourage more electric cars. “Gasoline station bans may also be seen as promoting the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), thus, reducing vehicle emissions and encouraging low-carbon and cleaner energy options for transportation,” it read.
But it also admitted that gas cars are still necessary right now. “The proposal for a cap but not a full ban on new gasoline and automobile service stations is in recognition that there will continue to be some demand for gasoline and automobile service stations as more EVs enter the market and gasoline vehicles are transitioned out of the market over time,” the report stated.
“I don’t think that this is gonna change the world, [and] I don’t think any single action this council or community takes is going to fix climate change,” city council member Maxine Most said during the comment period. Tomorrow, we’re not gonna find a solution that’s gonna be like, sweeping, and we’re gonna say, ‘ok, we’re gonna [decarbonize] the city buildings and that’s gonna solve climate change. The majority of climate impact is gonna come from residential and commercial. But I think it’s a really good idea for us to decarbonize because it sends a signal and it sends a message.”
“In 2023, we should not be increasing fossil fuel infrastructure. “It doesn’t make sense,” she continued. “Our state has a plan to be on 100% renewable energy by 2040 … For us to be endorsing investment in technology that we know is at the end of its life doesn’t really make sense … The reason we’re in the climate crisis we’re in is because we have allowed the free market to do what they want.”