Berkeley Mayor Signs Natural Gas Ban into Law
August 6, 2019 - Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, flanked by members of the City Council and environmental organizations, officially signed into law an ordinance that prohibits the use of natural gas in new construction. The signing comes a few weeks after the Council unanimously voted to approve the first ordinance of its kind in the United States.
The move comes as scientists and environmentalists sound the alarm on the dangers of climate change if imminent action is not taken. Meeting the goals set out by the Paris Agreement to keep global temperatures rising by 1.5 °C is essential in preventing a catastrophic climate crisis. While the United States is slated to exit the Paris Agreement in 2020, many cities and states are taking up the mantle to reach these goals. 27% of Berkeley’s greenhouse gas emissions are derived from the transportation and burning of natural gas.
Mayor Arreguin touted the historical importance of this law as part of Berkeley’s progressive legacy. “From introducing curbside recycling to banning Styrofoam, Berkeley has a proud history of being the first to introduce groundbreaking legislation which has become common practice today. History will repeat itself with our natural gas ordinance.”
Councilmember Kate Harrison, the primary author of the bill, highlighted the environmental importance of the law. “Climate change is an existential threat to our city, our homes, and our future. It is time to take aggressive action to reduce our emissions across all sectors.”
This bill is another step that Berkeley has taken to address the growing climate crisis. Earlier this year the City made headlines by banning single-use disposable foodware. This came after its ban on plastic straws. In 2018, Berkeley switched its energy provider to East Bay Community Energy, which procures electricity from solar, wind, and hydroelectric sources. The City has recently been increasing funding for bike infrastructure and promoting alternate forms of transportation.
The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Existing buildings are exempt, along with special exceptions in new construction.