In a blow to California Democrats, a federal appeals court has overturned Berkeley’s groundbreaking ban on natural gas hookups in new buildings, ruling it violates federal law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a California restaurant trade association, which argued that the city’s ordinance essentially bans gas appliances in contravention of a 1975 directive that grants Congress control over appliance restrictions.
Berkeley’s ordinance, which took effect in 2020, aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by banning newly constructed or remodeled residential and commercial buildings from installing natural gas piping. However, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) claimed the regulation violated the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which gives the federal government the final say on energy appliance restrictions.
#Progressive idiots banning natural gas do nothing but make life more expensive for everyone in order to virtue signal for the #ClimateScam. Fight these useless mandates every time. Court throws out Berkeley, California's ban on natural gas https://t.co/LGsWqS9omb via @YahooNews
— Truth Seeker (@300yd6lb) April 18, 2023
U.S. Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatay, writing for the three-judge panel, said that while Berkeley lawmakers didn’t directly ban the use of natural gas appliances, they achieved the same outcome “circuitously” by prohibiting gas piping—a policy that renders “the gas appliances useless.”
The ruling has national implications, as it may pave the way for legal challenges to similar bans across the country. The government is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a final appeal in the case.
Democrats have been ramping up efforts to ban gas stoves while attempting to downplay their motives. New York is set to become the first state to ban all gas stoves. California is currently considering a similar statewide ban. The White House has denied Joe Biden supports a gas stove ban while the Energy Department works to restrict their sale.
Carl DeMaio, chairman of the conservative political action group Reform California, celebrated the decision, saying it will not only apply “to these mandates on new construction but will also block the costly home retrofits that a number of cities and counties have been implementing.”
However, supporters of the ordinance claim the decision will not apply to a few other California cities that have promoted electrification over natural gas in their building codes.
Matt Vespa, a senior attorney with the nonprofit Earthjustice, called the decision misguided, saying, “It is vital that cities and states maintain all legal pathways to protect public health, cut climate emissions, and increase safety by addressing pollution from buildings.”
The California Restaurant Association expressed concern that the ban could have eroded the region’s reputation for fine and creative dining, particularly affecting international cuisine. The trade group also worried the ban could signal new efforts to outlaw or restrict the use of natural gas in existing structures, harming restaurants reliant on gas for specific cooking methods.
Though the Biden administration has said there are no plans for a nationwide ban on gas stoves, some federal lawmakers have called on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to address potential health risks through regulation, such as mandatory performance standards or requiring gas stoves to be sold with range hoods for improved ventilation.
In overturning Berkeley’s ban, the court has brought national attention to the Democrats’ green energy push and their efforts to downplay their true intentions. This decision may be the first domino to fall in challenging similar gas appliance restrictions nationwide.