Berkeley Natural Gas Ban Struck Down in Federal Court

The ruling said that federal law preempts the local law, making Berkeley’s ban illegal.   April 27, 2023

By Greg Zimmerman, senior contributing editor

Berkeley, California passed the country’s first natural gas ban for new buildings back in 2019, and since then there have been nearly 100 similar laws passed aiming to ween buildings off climate change-causing fossil fuels. Shifting buildings to electric heating – building electrification – helps reduce fossil fuel consumption and can help slow climate change.  

But Berkeley’s law was recently struck down by a three-judge federal appeals panel, ruling that the law is  preempted by federal law, making the local law illegal, according to Grist. The lawsuit was brought by the National Restaurant Association which argued that natural gas hookups are crucial to restaurant operation. 

Though the Berkeley law was struck down, the Berkeley law was not a building code, so this ruling only affects other laws written similar to Berkeley’s. Many other locales and states have natural gas bans for new buildings actually written into building codes, and the appeals court ruling said these were allowable, according to USA Today. A Sierra Club spokesperson said roughly 70 percent of the natural gas bans in California won’t be affected by this ruling.  

Greg Zimmerman is senior contributing editor for FacilitiesNet.com and Building Operating Management magazine. 




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