Battle over phasing out natural gas moves to state Legislature
The City of Seattle recently passed a bill banning all natural gas usage in new construction of apartments and commercial buildings, and there is a push by some state Democrats that seems to echo that by reducing the use of natural gas statewide as well.
“The idea metastasized, I’m afraid. And the bill is House Bill 1084, and it’s a job killer,” Dye said. “They just decided that in the middle of a pandemic — after we’ve been shut out of our work for a lot of time — that all of a sudden they’re going to put new mandates on us. And this one says we’re not going to have any kind of fossil fuel heating, no furnaces, water heaters — we want all electric in our homes and commercial buildings.”
Dye says this reduces the available options and makes it difficult for those who live in areas where the power sometimes goes out.
“When you’re building a new house, now you don’t get to pick the affordable, efficient furnace. That’s out, even if that saves you hundreds of dollars in heating bills,” she said. “It also means if you’re not going to have a gas furnace, that means you’re probably not going to put in a gas fireplace. What do you do if the power goes off? A lot of us live in places where that happens pretty frequently, and if they’re going to put everything on electricity, that might happen more frequently.”
Considering the size of the natural gas industry in the state, Dye says this bill would have a large impact on jobs and the local economy.
“It’s a big industry because it provides warmth for about 1.2 million residences, there’s 107,000 commercial buildings and 3,500 industrial buildings that are working under clean, efficient, reliable natural gas,” she said. “Plus, it fires about 11% of our electricity grid. So you’re talking a very large labor force.”
“There’s 45,000 miles of pipeline, and so that all has to be maintained,” she continued. “… A pipeline that is safe and secure is a big deal, and those skills are acquired. And people take a great deal of pride when they rise to the level in their skill to be able to work in an industry like this, … and they’re saying that these people are non essential, you know? And I really just don’t think that they sent us to Olympia to write bills that make somebody else’s job obsolete.”
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