Local Governments Pass Resolutions in Support of Natural Gas and Against Counsel of State Regulators

Local Governments Pass Resolutions in Support of Natural Gas and Against Counsel of State Regulators

Los Angeles

On October 3, 2019 the Southern California Gas Company touted more than 100 local governments across Southern California representing  6.75 million Californians including millions in the inland region, that have passed resolutions in support of affordable and balanced strategies aimed at reducing emissions from buildings and pushing back against state energy regulators calling for a transition away from natural gas. The resolutions also called on state policymakers to preserve consumers’ ability to choose either natural gas or electric appliances for their homes and businesses but is this the correct course?   These resolutions are in response to concerns over state policymakers’ actions to prohibit the use of natural gas in new buildings. State energy regulators are actively considering calls for new regulations that would eliminate natural gas use in new buildings and have also proposed programs that would result in existing natural gas customers paying for all-electric retrofits to existing homes.   Despite local resolutions and The Gas Company’s accolades in response, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has warned of the environmental impacts related to natural gas, including its extraction.  Like oil, natural gas is a fossil fuel and although global warming emissions from its combustion are much lower than those from coal or oil, according to UCS the drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines results in the leakage of methane—a primary component of natural gas that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years.  Natural gas also produces nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are precursors to smog. And, although the levels of NOx are lower than the gasoline and diesel emissions for motor vehicles, research shows reductions in these emissions offers health benefits—natural gas pollutants have been linked with a variety of health problems ranging from asthma and bronchitis to lung cancer and heart disease.  Although the Southern California Gas Company and industries like the California Building Industry Association and others are aligned in their support of natural gas, State energy regulators see it differently.  More than 90 percent of homes in Southern California use natural gas for space and water heating or cooking.  And, according to SoCalGas, families in Southern California prefer natural gas by a margin of four to one for water heating and cooking because it is less expensive than electricity.    “The cost of switching gas appliances to electric-only in addition to an increase in energy costs would unfairly impact our low-income communities,” said Andy Melendrez, Riverside Mayor Pro Tem.  “More than 65 percent of the working population within the Inland Empire commutes to Los Angeles and Orange County daily due to our lower housing costs. This would force more of our population to move further away from their jobs increasing traffic, air-emissions and pollution.”

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