Berkeley Ban on Natural Gas Struck Down

Posted By: BPOA Master Only in Berkeley,

A federal court of appeals struck down Berkeley's attempt to ban natural gas use in new construction properties. The California Restaurant Association had filed a lawsuit in 2019 claiming the ban was "irresponsible" and did "little to advance the goals of climate change."

The initial Berkeley legislation circumvented climate protection law (the Energy Policy and Conservation Act) by modifying the building code to prohibit permits for new natural gas piping. the court said that the scope of the climate protection law includes building codes which regulate natural gas, therefore Berkeley had no right to preempt federal law. The decision was made by a a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Patrick J. Bumatay said, "By completely prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping within newly constructed buildings, the City of Berkeley has waded into a domain preempted by Congress."

The initial legislation was a pet project of councilmember Kate Harrison and cosponsored by councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Sophie Hahn and now-former councilmember Cheryl Davila.