New York State’s natural gas ban has been challenged by major business groups and unions

A New York law passed by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this year to ban natural gas equipment and infrastructure in new buildings is facing a legal challenge from a coalition of businesses and unions.

In May, Hochul signed the law on the construction of electricity, which is part of the state law fiscal 2024 budget. The law would require nearly all newly constructed buildings to be fully electric starting in 2026 for smaller structures and in 2029 for larger ones.

However, business groups and unions want the new law repealed. The complaints include Mulhern Gas Co., the National Association of Home Builders, the National Propane Gas Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, Plumbers Local Union No. 200 and the AFL-CIO. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York (Mulhern Gas. What. v. RodriguezNo. 1:23-cv-01267).

The plaintiffs argue that New York’s natural gas ban is preempted by federal law and contrary to the public interest.

“The drastic step of requiring ‘all-electric’ new buildings despite an already strained power grid runs counter to the public’s need for reliable, resilient and affordable energy sources,” said the plaintiffs’ attorneys at Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg LLP (RJLF). . They argue that the natural gas ban is “preempted by federal law, contrary to the public interest, and prejudicial to plaintiffs and the members they represent.”

The cited federal law, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), was originally enacted in 1975. It established a federal program that, among other things, created the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Consumer Product Energy Conservation Program, and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Regulations.

“Our clients are strong supporters of the state’s climate goals, but the ban puts our clients and their members at risk,” said RJLF attorney Sarah Jorgensen. “A mandate to ban gas is not reasonable or available now when New York’s grid is already overloaded. And regardless, New York must follow federal law.”

RJLF attorney Courtland Reichman said that “a broken national energy policy system is broken. Nationally uniform standards for energy consumption and energy efficiency are the best way to promote savings targets while ensuring energy security, home supply and consumer choice.”

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously in April repeal a similar ban on natural gas infrastructure in Berkeley, CA. However, the city and intervenors have requested en banc reconsideration, meaning the decision could be overturned. RJLF represented the California Restaurant Association in this lawsuit challenging Berkeley’s ban on natural gas infrastructure in new buildings.

A Ninth Circuit panel held that the Berkeley gas pipeline ban involved the energy consumption of appliances covered by the EPCA and was therefore preempted.

New York City enacted a a similar gas ban due to take effect in 2027. He would thus join other municipalities across the country that have enforced similar bans. However, because Berkeley decision, some municipalities have postponed or canceled his proposals, including Washington state.

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