Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) has proposed a statewide ban on natural gas hookups in new buildings, one of the more extreme parts of her plans to combat climate change.
Yahoo News reported that Hochul made the proposal in her State of the State speech, saying that “New construction in the state will be zero-emission by 2027, and we will build climate-friendly electric homes and promote electric cars, trucks and buses,” without acknowledging where electricity comes from.
“In a policy outline released Wednesday ahead of her State of the State address, Hochul’s office laid out her plan to curb on-site greenhouse gas emissions. In effect, the plan means that new buildings could have neither oil or gas burners for heat or hot water, nor gas stoves. The plan would also require energy analyses of every new building’s energy usage, known as ‘benchmarking.’ Hochul’s climate change agenda also sets a goal of 2 million electrified homes by 2030,” Yahoo reported.
New York City already passed a similar proposal last month and passed an energy benchmarking law in 2016, though it is unclear what progress the city has made since then.
Ben Furnas, former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s director of climate and sustainability, told Yahoo that he hopes federal incentives will help make it affordable for people to switch to electric – meaning, as with most green energy proposals, more tax dollars are needed to make them competitive and affordable.
“I think as heat pump technology for heating and hot water improves, as induction stoves become the most modern and exciting type of stove on the market, and, I think, as you see federal incentives to encourage these shifts — [and] potentially other regulatory steps that municipalities could take — I think you’re going to see, as people are replacing fossil fuel appliances in their home, they’re going to be shifting more and more to modern electric versions of these things,” Furnas told the outlet.
Yahoo also cited a report from the Rocky Mountain Institute – a green energy think tank that opposes nuclear energy even though it is the best option to reduce emissions – which claimed that banning new gas hookups in New York City will reduce emissions equivalent to taking 450,000 cars off the street by the year 2040. But research from R Street, a more conservative think tank, found that such a ban, particularly on vehicles, won’t do much to combat climate change.
“America currently accounts for only 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and that percentage will fall as nations such as India and China become wealthier,” R Street noted. “Replacing gasoline cars with electric vehicles depends on the willingness of consumers to prefer EVs to traditionally powered cars. If this doesn’t happen, consumers will respond to the ban by keeping their existing cars for longer, buying out of state, or pressuring future elected officials to loosen the ban.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has enacted a ban on gas-powered vehicles that won’t take effect for 15 years. Hochul’s plan won’t take effect for five. If the threat is so severe, why wait? As R Street noted, “a ban that doesn’t take effect for 15 years provides the appearance of action but forces future leaders to deal with the consequences.”
And electric heat pumps are more expensive. Furnas, the former de Blasio climate director, argued, of course, that it wasn’t that much more expensive.
“For a new construction, our analysis showed that it was about comparable,” Furnas told Yahoo. “For a retrofit, a lot of it is very site-dependent, and part of the impetus for setting a date certain for new buildings is it’s really going to help jump-start a much more robust market and competitive heat pump market. And I think you’ll see, as that technology improves and as developers and contractors get used to installing them in new buildings, you’ll have much more competitive products on the market and installers who are used to doing that kind of work.”