Members of the #GasFreeNY campaign protested outside of Speaker Carl Heastie’s office on Thursday; Photo credit: Pete Sikora of NYCC
Landmark legislation that would have banned the use of natural gas in new buildings across New York was cut from this year’s state budget, according to Hudson Valley-based news site The River. While it looked like the legislation, dubbed the All-Electric Buildings Act, would make it into the final budget, which is already a week late, a staffer close to negotiations told The River “the gas ban is officially dead in the budget.”
State Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher introduced last year the All-Electric Buildings Act which requires new buildings across New York to be all-electric by the end of 2023. Supporters say banning natural gas would cut air pollution, save lives, and create clean energy jobs.
While there was support from state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul, opponents argued the legislation would increase utility costs for consumers.
The all-electric buildings legislation follows in the steps of New York City. In December, the City Council approved legislation banning the use of natural gas in new buildings under seven stories tall starting in 2023 and in structures over seven stories in the middle of 2027, becoming the largest city in the U.S. to phase fossil fuels out of new construction.
Buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. According to the Urban Green Council, New York City buildings emit 40 percent of the city’s carbon each year.
“New Yorkers will not stand by as the fossil fuel industry buys off our elected officials,” Alex Beauchamp, the Northeast Region Director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We will continue to fight hard for a statewide gas ban that will fight climate change, keep us safe and healthy at home, and usher in a new green economy for our state. New York can and must lead on this issue, and it’s up to Governor Hochul and legislative leaders to drown out industry lobbyist lies and ensure that the mounting calls for action from all corners of the state are answered. We need a gas ban now.”
With the bill not included in this year’s budget, the legislation will be worked out during the remaining legislative session, which will end in June. According to a Siena poll published in January, 62 percent of New Yorkers support the bill.
“As a general rule we didn’t include policy in our budget proposal,” Michael Whyland, the press secretary for Assembly Speaker Carl Heasite, told City Limits. “I know these groups may not like the answer, but whatever we do on this issue—or any issue—is guided by the sense of the entire democratic conference.”
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