Energy & Environment

Hochul calls for ban on natural gas in new buildings

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called for an end to the use of natural gas in new buildings in a policy blueprint released Wednesday ahead of her State of the State address.

In the blueprint, Hochul’s office outlined a plan to require zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions from new construction by 2027. The plan would also require energy benchmarking, or analyzing whether buildings are using more or less energy than those of similar sizes and occupancy levels, for large buildings.

“To make real progress on climate change, it’s time to tackle major sources of pollution head-on, ensure greener housing is available to all New Yorkers, and pave the way toward a more sustainable future,” Hochul said in a statement. “This transformative investment in green infrastructure will cement New York’s status at the forefront of climate action and ensure equity in our transition to a cleaner, greener state.”

Although New York City implemented a similar citywide requirement for new buildings in December, Hochul’s plan would mark the first statewide requirement if implemented. Such a plan would have to pass the state Assembly, but Hochul’s backing strengthens its chances in the Democratic-majority legislature.

The governor’s blueprint also sets a goal of 2 million electrified homes by the end of the decade, with at least 800,000 of those homes for low- and middle-income residents.

The Empire State already has a 2019 law on the books requiring the state reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and a zero-emission power grid by 2040. Buildings are the biggest single-sector contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, at 32 percent, according to the government’s 2021 statewide emissions report.

The nongovernmental organization Food and Water Watch said in a statement that Hochul’s blueprint was the right move but called the timeline far too slow.

“Hochul’s proposal would take effect by or in 2027, slower than New York City’s newly-passed gas ban or even what the Climate Action Council proposed,” senior organizer Eric Weltman said in a statement. “Governor Hochul must act quickly, enacting the statewide gas ban through the state budget — now.”

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