From stoves to hot water, natural gas is used to power many homes and businesses across the United States. A byproduct of using that energy source is methane — a greenhouse gas that has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. In April 2021, President Joe Biden made a commitment to reduce U.S. methane emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
Burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation is the largest source of domestic greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2019, it accounted for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
That same year, Berkeley, California, became the first U.S. city to ban natural gas hookups in future construction. According to the city’s Natural Gas Prohibition ordinance, any “new buildings that apply for land use permits or zoning certificates after January 1, 2020” cannot install natural gas hookups. VERIFY viewer Brenda recently texted our team asking if there is a national ban on natural gas hookups.
Is there a national ban on new natural gas hookups in the U.S.?
No, there is not a national ban on new natural gas hookups in the U.S. However, some cities and counties across the country have issued bans on new natural gas hookups in future construction projects.
WHAT WE FOUND
Rob Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Stanford University, and Jake Rubin, the senior director of public relations at the American Gas Association, both told VERIFY there is not a national ban on natural gas hookups in the U.S.
“There are a few places in the United States where you are not able to get a natural gas hookup to your home or business. In most of those places, it's for new construction,” Rubin said.
Some U.S. cities, such as New York City and over 50 cities in California, including San Francisco and San Jose, according to the Sierra Club, have passed legislation to reduce their reliance on gas by banning new natural gas hookups on most new development projects.
Jackson says it's more efficient for cities to ban natural gas hookups in future construction than to remove that infrastructure from buildings that already exist.
“What we don't want to do is for people to have to swap out a perfectly good stove or appliance in their home while it's still functional and still working,” Jackson said. “Every house on the street that is using natural gas requires the same infrastructure, so if you want to try and meet a city or country's climate goals to reduce natural gas and methane leaking into the air, phasing out gas usage in future construction is the best way to avoid throwing away perfectly good appliances.”
Meanwhile, at least 19 states, including Alabama, Florida, and Texas, have passed laws that ban local governments from placing limits on natural gas usage, according to Rubin.
“There are a number of states that have said they don't see banning natural gas as a climate solution, and therefore they have passed legislation statewide that prohibits states, cities, and towns from eliminating natural gas or any utility as a choice for those customers,” Rubin said.