BAM Key Details:
- New York just became the first state in the U.S. to ban gas stoves and furnaces in new residential buildings, with some notable exceptions.
- This comes about four months after U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumpka, Jr. called attention to studies revealing a causal link between gas stoves and serious health conditions, including childhood asthma.
New York just became the first state in the U.S. to ban gas stoves and furnaces in most new buildings. The law does exclude some buildings, possibly to avoid legal roadblocks faced by other U.S. cities that passed similar bans.
New buildings shorter than seven stories have until 2026 to meet the new code, which mandates all-electric appliances. New buildings of seven stories or more have until 2029.
While a major win for climate advocates, the new law could spark considerable pushback from the fossil fuel industry, as well as those who wonder just how much the state’s power grid can support.
What does the law actually do—and not do?
The new law is part of the $229 billion state budget approved late Tuesday night by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the Democratic lawmakers who control the state Senate and Assembly.
What the law does:
- Bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces, and propane heating
- Encourages the use of more climate-friendly appliances, including heat pumps and induction stoves
But while it affects most new residential buildings in New York, it does not ban gas appliances in all new buildings. The law includes exemptions for large commercial and industrial buildings, including hospitals, stores, laundromats, and restaurants.
That said, the impact on new residential real estate could be considerable since, according to a 2022 report, buildings account for 32% of the state’s planet-warming emissions. Methane is a big reason for that. As the main component of natural gas, methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first two decades it spends in the atmosphere.
That finding is primarily why scientists have focused on reducing fossil fuels—and our dependence on them—as a way to rapidly reduce planet-warming pollution.
Remember Richard Trumpka, Jr?
Back in January, BAM reported on some high-level speculation that a ban on gas stoves could be on its way. Richard Trumpka, Jr., a U.S. Consumer Product Safety commissioner, called national attention to studies revealing a causative link between gas stoves and severe health conditions, including childhood asthma. He also suggested the agency could ban them.
To clarify his position, he later added that the agency had no intention of going into people’s homes and removing gas stoves that are already there. If a ban ever happened, it would only impact new construction.
City-level efforts to ban gas hookups and appliances
New York may be the first state to pass a law like this, but in 2019, Berkeley, CA, became the first U.S. city to pass a code banning natural gas hookups in new construction. Other cities quickly followed suit—San Francisco in 2020 and New York City in 2021.
But other cities have run into roadblocks when trying to take similar action. Over a dozen states with GOP-controlled legislatures have taken preemptive measures by passing laws prohibiting those cities from banning natural gas.
Pushback and legal challenges
Predictably, the natural gas industry is not taking this lying down. It’s pushing back on New York’s new state law, accusing lawmakers of overstepping and taking away choices for consumers.
Any push to ban natural gas would raise costs to consumers, jeopardize environmental progress and deny affordable energy to underserved populations.
Sarah Fox, an associate law professor at Northern Illinois University School of Law, who is following natural gas bans across the U.S., pointed out how the California Restaurant Association successfully challenged Berkeley’s anti-gas building code. Their success is likely why New York’s law carves out an exemption for restaurants.
That said, the fact that this new law has the power of a state behind it could impact legal repercussions.
I think it’s huge that a state is doing it, not only because New York is a big-impact state. It takes it outside of this narrative of these are these fringe cities passing these policies. This is becoming a mainstream policy that a state like New York is taking on.
Fox added that, even with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, this law could ultimately be recognized as within the purview of a state’s sovereign right to pass its own laws.
Other climate change efforts in the New York budget deal
Aside from the natural gas, New York’s budget deal includes the following climate change efforts:
- Publicly-owned renewable energy projects that would create green jobs
- A cap-and-invest program that would require companies with higher carbon footprints to purchase permits to pollute
Revenue from that cap-and-invest program would fund initiatives that offset the damaging impact of planet-warming emissions.
All of this comes three years after New York implemented its landmark climate law—the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act—committing the state to net-zero emissions by the year 2050.
Each year, though, New York adds about 250,000 metric tons of planet-warming emissions from the tens of thousands of new buildings with gas installations. That number comes from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit advocating for the transition to clean energy.
Katy Zielinski also pointed out that the New York Power Authority is developing plans to decarbonize 15 state facilities with the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
[The plans] will accelerate our progress towards a cleaner building sector, support the creation of high-quality jobs at future decarbonization projects including thermal energy networks, and move the State closer to reaching our climate goals.
Top takeaways for real estate agents
Wherever you stand on this issue, keep this information handy in case any of your clients want to know how this could affect their ability to buy or sell a home with a gas stove or propane heating. And be prepared to show sellers the potential cost of removing gas appliances or converting to all-electric if they’re keen to appeal to climate-conscious buyers.
On the other hand, as more bans like this gain approval and go into effect, some buyers looking to lower their electric bill may just decide to shop exclusively for homes with gas appliances. Keep an ear to the ground as we learn more about how these bans will impact the power grid,