How would a natural gas ban actually work in Seattle?

Sep 7, 2019, 8:52 AM

Natural gas ban Seattle...

Seattle is currently mulling a ban on natural gas in new homes. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

A proposed ban on natural gas in new homes and buildings was discussed in a Seattle City Council committee Friday. And while it may seem like a relatively simple idea, there are also dozens of factors that could make it difficult to achieve.

“Who’s paying for all this?” Seattle-King County Building and Constructions Trade Council Executive Secretary Monty Anderson asked KIRO Radio’s Candy, Mike and Todd Show. “We’re talking about not millions, but billions of dollars of home equities and building permits.”

Seattle weighs ban on natural gas in homes and buildings

Legislation for the ban is being sponsored by Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who cites data that says a quarter of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from natural gas in single-family homes.

Just over half the city’s homes used natural gas in 2018, something that would make a complete ban incredibly complicated for all involved.

“There is not one mention [in the legislation] of the impact to the suppliers, the companies that (work in natural gas), or jobs,” noted Anderson. “And if it we’re looking at things through a lens where it doesn’t show any economic impacts to the people and businesses in Seattle, we’re using the wrong lamp. So, yeah, this is a little out of left field even for Seattle, to tell you the truth.”

This comes not long after San Francisco introduced it’s own legislation for a ban, and after Berkeley became the first U.S. city to actually pass one. San Francisco City Supervisor Vallie Brown estimates that natural gas in buildings generates 44 percent of the city’s emissions.

For Puget Sound Energy — the local authority that provides natural gas service to the region — there are a handful of factors to consider, outlined in a statement issued shortly after the legislation came to light.

Natural gas is what our customers use every day to heat their homes, to cook, and to do laundry. It’s an essential part of our energy mix– on the coldest days of the year, PSE’s natural gas system provides about 2/3 of the energy used by the city of Seattle.

Before deciding any new policy, there are several key questions to consider. How the decision would impact reliability, affordability and safety need to be well understood, as well as protecting customer energy choices. We look forward to working with policymakers on a thorough analysis.

That’s something Anderson acknowledges as well, pointing out that should a ban go into effect, logistical questions would remain.

Study: Fossil fuels could cause clouds to disappear

“If we stop [using natural gas] tomorrow, who’s gonna maintain what’s there?” he posited. “Where’s the work force coming from? If there’s no more pipe to fit in, companies will just leave. We’re talking about generational businesses here in Seattle that do that kind of work.”

In the days ahead, Anderson notes that many members of Seattle’s City Council share those concerns.

“Every City Council member I’ve talked to — including Kshama [Sawant] — have all heard my concerns about not rushing this through,” he described.

Candy Mike and Todd

guns, assault weapons, gun, 1639, 1639 gun initiative, gun tax...

Mike Lewis

Mike: We should not restrict guns but their owners are different story

If you are a commercial pilot or general contractor likely you understand the value of licensing; So why not license gun owners?

3 years ago

snow day...

MyNorthwest Staff

What’s better for kids: a school snow day or a two-hour delay?

The recent snow fall stirred up a debate: What's better for kids, a snow day or two-hour delay?

3 years ago

shoveling snow...

MyNorthwest Staff

Candy: Everyone should shovel snow as a chore

Shoveling snow is a unique experience here in the Pacific Northwest. Here are five reasons everyone should shovel snow as a chore.

3 years ago


Todd Herman

The theft of parental rights in Washington state is unconscionable and immoral

Quoting a law passed in Democrat-controlled Washington state originally designed to make sure girls could get secret abortions, insurance companies have been writing to parents informing them they no longer have any rights to be involved in crucial, life-altering decisions their kids want to make.

3 years ago


MyNorthwest Staff

Guilt tipping has got to stop

We are seeing tipping pop up in unusual places. I've seen new tip lines at a craft store, clothing store, and a 7-11 in the last few months.

3 years ago

Space Needle fireworks, New Year's Eve, seattle baby...

MyNorthwest Staff

Tell me I’m wrong: Everyone should have a New Year’s resolution

What is preventing us from reaching our fitness goals the rest of the year? KIRO Radio's Candy Harper weighs in.

3 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

How would a natural gas ban actually work in Seattle?