California Restaurant Association says Berkeley to halt ban on natural gas piping in new buildings

Mar 26, 2024, 12:35 PM

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The city of Berkeley, California, has agreed to halt enforcement of a ban on natural gas piping in new homes and buildings that was successfully opposed in court by the California Restaurant Association, the organization said.

The settlement follows the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ refusal to reconsider a 2023 ruling that the ban violates federal law that gives the U.S. government the authority to set energy-efficiency standards for appliances, the association said in a statement last week.

The office of the Berkeley city attorney did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment on the association’s statement.

The association said Berkeley agreed to settle the case by taking steps to repeal its ordinance, but because the process will take several months, the city will immediately stop enforcing the ban to comply with the court ruling.

In 2019, Berkeley became the first U.S. city to adopt a ban on natural gas in new homes and buildings, starting a climate change-driven move in many other cities and counties that morphed into a culture war over the future of gas stoves.

The California Restaurant Association filed suit in federal court to overturn Berkeley’s ban.

After the 9th Circuit’s ruling, environmental groups contended it would not affect the majority of cities and counties that have already banned or curtailed natural gas through building codes that meet certain federal requirements. But they said jurisdictions with ordinances constructed similar to Berkeley’s might be at risk.

There have been no new bans since the 9th Circuit’s ruling and some communities have suspended or stopped enforcing their rules, The Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

Sacramento, for example, has not enforced its electrification ordinance since August 2023, the Bee reported.

Jot Condie, president and CEO of the restaurant association, said all cities and counties that passed a similar ordinance should now undo them.

“Climate change must be addressed, but piecemeal policies at the local level like bans on natural gas piping in new buildings or all-electric ordinances, which are preempted by federal energy laws, are not the answer,” Condie said in the association statement that was issued Friday.

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California Restaurant Association says Berkeley to halt ban on natural gas piping in new buildings