Berkeley Forced to Abandon Green Agenda Ban on Natural Gas after Court Battle

A nearly four-year court battle has forced the City of Berkeley, California to abandon its landmark ban on natural gas hookups in new buildings.

Berkeley officials have finally agreed to stop enforcing the green agenda rule.

The decision ends a long court battle to beat the ban by industry groups.

The city said it would immediately stop enforcement of the Natural Gas Infrastructure Ordinance while repealing the policy through the regular legislative process.

The agreement was revealed in a legal settlement filed in federal court with the California Restaurant Association (CRA).

The document estimates it will take several months to repeal the rule due to the city council’s procedures and calendar.

In a statement, CRA President and CEO Jot Condie said:

“We are encouraged that the City of Berkeley has agreed to take steps to repeal the ordinance, including immediate nonenforcement of the ban, to remain compliant with federal energy law.

“Every city and county in California that has passed a similar ordinance should follow their lead.

“Climate change must be addressed, but piecemeal policies at the local level like bans on natural gas piping in new buildings or all-electric ordinances, which are preempted by federal energy laws, are not the answer.

“Cities must comply with the law.

“Rather, the ban was passed with a disregard for available cooking technologies and ultimately for small businesses in the community that rely on gas-burning equipment for their cuisines.”

The settlement comes two months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied Berkeley’s petition for rehearing en banc in the case.

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In April 2023, that same panel struck down the city’s gas ban ordinance, ruling that it violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

The act prevents local regulations from impacting the energy use of natural gas appliances.

The city council passed the law in July 2019, and it was set to go into effect in January 2020 — which would have made the city the first in the nation to approve such a measure.

Berkeley Councilmember Kate Harrison, who authored the legislation, claimed at the time that the policy was part of the city’s effort to take “more drastic action” on “climate change.”

But months after the ordinance was approved, the CRA filed a federal lawsuit challenging the city’s ability to pass a law banning new natural gas hookups.

After a lower court ruled in favor of Berkeley in July 2021, the CRA appealed and received the favorable Ninth Circuit ruling in April.

“While the Ninth Circuit’s ruling renders this particular ordinance unenforceable, Berkeley will continue to be a leader in climate action,” Berkeley City Attorney Farimah Brown said in a statement.

The settlement was hailed by the American Gas Association (AGA), however.

The AGA said the result would set a precedent for other cities pursuing similar gas bans.

In addition to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association; National Association of Home Builders; and National Association of Manufacturers, the AGA was among the industry groups supporting the CRA lawsuit.

In a statement, AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert said:

“This settlement has implications far beyond the City of Berkeley and is a significant step towards safeguarding energy choice for California consumers and helping our nation continue on a path to achieving our energy and environmental goals.

“Natural gas has been one of the primary drivers for achieving environmental progress, and any ban on this foundation fuel will saddle consumers with significant costs for little environmental gain.”

Democrat President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice and the National League of Cities declared their support for Berkeley.

Additionally, Washington D.C., NYC, and the states of California, Maryland, New York, and Oregon all filed briefs supporting Berkeley.

READ MORE – Blue State Democrats Demand Jail Time for People Caught Using Gas-Powered Gardening Tools

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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