Movement Tries to Sell Switching From Gas in Homes

Climate and health reasons drive the switch, though the industry argues the points
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2021 7:15 PM CST
Movement Tries to Sell Switching From Gas in Homes
Cities are beginning to not leave consumers the choice on whether to cook with gas or electricity.   (Getty/StockSolutions)

The movement to turn off the gas in homes is picking up steam. More cities are prohibiting the use of gas in new homes and businesses, and even in existing buildings, the Los Angeles Times reports. Just last week, the New York City Council approved a ban for most new construction, per CNBC. That's the recommendation of the International Energy Agency, which in May called on governments everywhere to prohibit the sale of fossil fuel furnaces by 2025 and quickly phase out natural gas in buildings. There's a growing body of climate change and health evidence for doing that, though not everyone wants to stop cooking with gas.

Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming. "We know the climate can't afford us to continue using natural gas for the next 50 or 100 years," said Billi Romain of the Office of Energy and Sustainable Development in Berkeley, California, which enacted a ban in 2019. "But if you build a building using natural gas, you are making a 50-, 100-year investment. ... We really need to stop that investment pipeline into gas infrastructure." The industry, including the American Gas Association, is fighting the effort. Cities passing bans, the group's president said, "have not properly studied the burden it will place on families or the negligible greenhouse gas reduction potential."

The health evidence includes studies showing children are at higher risk of developing asthma if they live in a home with a gas stove, though the natural gas industry disputes the findings. Scientists are conducting tests in homes, per the Times, using monitoring equipment to check for toxins. Little is known about the dangers. One of the testers, a California professor, said his team has found pollutants in the air that came from gas stoves, though he doesn't know yet whether they're harmful. At home, he now turns on the exhaust fan when using his gas stove. "I just don't want to breathe" gases that include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde, he said, so, "Why not just try to eliminate the risk entirely?" (More natural gas stories.)

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