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California moves to ban natural gas furnaces and heaters by 2030

A natural gas flame
California is moving to become the first U.S. state to phase out gas-fueled furnaces and water heaters in homes. Los Angeles and several other California cities have passed bans on a wider range of natural gas appliances in new construction, including stoves.
(Joerg Sarbach / Associated Press)

California is committing to a plan that will make it the first U.S. state to phase out gas-fueled furnaces and water heaters in homes, a move environmentalists are betting will provide a template for other states.

The Golden State will ban the sale of all new natural gas-fired space heaters and water-heating appliances by 2030, under a proposal unanimously approved by the California Air Resources Board on Thursday.

“We need to take every action we can to deliver on our commitments to protect public health from the adverse impacts of air pollution, and this strategy identifies how we can do just that,” board Chair Liane Randolph said. “While this strategy will clean the air for all Californians, it will also lead to reduced emissions in the many low-income and disadvantaged communities that experience greater levels of persistent air pollution.

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“But to truly meet the ozone standard, California needs more federal action to clean up harmful diesel pollution from primarily federally controlled sources, from locomotives and ocean-going vessels to aircraft, which are all concentrated in communities that continue to bear the brunt of poor air quality. We simply cannot provide clean air to Californians without the federal government doing its part,” Randolph said.

The vote Thursday wasn’t the final say on the matter. Rather, it directed state agencies to draft a rule for phasing out gas-fueled appliances that will be up for a final vote in 2025.

“We’re really hopeful that this is the beginning of a domino effect and other states will follow California’s lead,” said Leah Louis-Prescott, a senior associate at RMI , a nonprofit focused on the transition to clean energy.

The proposal is part of a road map of commitments that the state is pursuing to shrink its carbon footprint and comply with federal air-quality standards. That far-reaching plan contains measures that would allow the state to transition away from burning gas and reduce emissions that cause air pollution and contribute to smog.

Climate change spurred Friday’s unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council.

Because California still gets about 40% of its power from fossil fuels, the transition won’t eliminate carbon emissions. The state is targeting a carbon-free grid by 2045.

The proposal does not include gas stoves, but about 50 cities and towns in California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have adopted regulations that ban or discourage the use of gas-fueled stoves in new buildings.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in May to ban most gas appliances in new construction, a policy that’s expected to result in new homes and businesses coming equipped with electric stoves, clothes dryers, water heaters and furnaces. The motion left the details to city agencies, directing them to draft a regulation and bring it back to the council for approval by the end of 2022.


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