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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Berkeley’s ban on natural gas is an overreaction to climate change

Natural gas leak
Crews work at Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage facility near Porter Ranch.
(Javier Mendoza / Associated Press)

To the editor: Jacques Leslie’s support for a Berkeley-style prohibition on using natural gas in buildings provides an opportunity to ask some hard questions about climate change.

First, California produces about 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Forcing people to switch to all-electric homes will have an insignificant effect on climate change but will cost billions of dollars to retrofit older homes and purchase electric appliances. There is no consideration of what the carbon footprint is for that change, because, let’s be honest, all those new appliances and changes have an impact.

Second, “electrify everything” advocates ignore real equity issues. California’s electric rates are the highest in the nation. How will low-income families afford higher electric bills? What will become of the utility workers who lose their jobs? What impacts will there be on energy reliability and consumer costs?

Third, climate change is taking effect now. Californians can no longer afford to focus solely on reducing emissions. Does it make sense to spend billions on electrifying buildings when we know it will cost many billions to protect California’s public infrastructure from a rising ocean, not to mention billions more to protect private property from wildfires?

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We cannot solve our problems with short-sighted actions and political soundbites.

Matt Rahn, Temecula

The writer is chairman of Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, a group formed by natural gas utilities.

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To the editor: What did City Councilwoman Kate Harrison do during Berkeley’s six-month outreach program to be so powerfully persuasive on banning natural gas from new buildings? The utility Pacific Gas and Electric even agreed with the ban.

We need to utilize her strategy to help educate the public on the importance of shifting to clean, renewable energy.

Dana Hirsch, Fullerton


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