Republican lawmakers in dozens of states, supported by their backers in the gas industry, are passing laws to prohibit cities from taking climate action by electrifying their buildings, CNN reports. Transitioning space and water heating from gas to electric is one of the most effective measures localities can take to reduce their climate pollution and electrification ordinances “are kind of low-hanging fruit,” Sheila Foster, an environmental law expert at Georgetown Law, told CNN.
More than 65 municipalities in seven states, including New York City in December, have adopted legislation to electrify their buildings, but the American Gas Association is working with its members to preempt that drumbeat from continuing and banning cities from passing electrification measures, including in states where there aren’t even cities looking to enact them. “We’re afraid that’s going to have a chilling effect on cities that want to take action,” said Alejandra Mejia Cunningham, a building decarbonization advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Fund. “Many cities and towns have small staffs, they don’t want to be taken to court, being seen as going outside state law.” (CNN)