Aletho News


Ninth Circuit Spikes Berkeley’s Gas Ban

By Robert Bryce | April 18, 2023

Three federal court judges just rescued your gas stove and other gas-fired appliances from the nanny state.

Yesterday, in a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the nation’s first ban on natural gas, put in place by the City of Berkeley in 2019, violates federal law. The three judges found that the city’s ordinance was preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which prohibits the implementation of regulations that favor one type of fuel over another.

The first report I saw on the court’s ruling was here on Substack by my friend, Ed Ireland. There’s no doubt that the decision is a huge win for consumers, businesses, and energy security. Indeed, the ruling in California Restaurant Association vs. City of Berkeley, has ramifications that go beyond California and the Ninth Circuit. It should invalidate the dozens of gas bans that have been enacted across the country over the past four years. It may also mean that plans by federal authorities, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to ban, or restrict, the use of gas stoves, gas furnaces, and other gas-fired appliances, are kaput.

About 47 million American homes have gas stoves and lots of chefs, and consumers, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, like cooking with gas. The Department of Energy’s own numbers show that heating homes with gas is far cheaper than heating with electricity. Despite these facts, a group of lavishly funded activist groups have been pushing electrify everything mandates that would prohibit the use of gas in homes and businesses and require consumers to rely almost exclusively (including energy for electric vehicles) on our already-shaky electric grid. The electrify everything claque got a boost in January after Richard Trumka Jr., who sits on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told a Bloomberg reporter that gas stoves are a hazard and that “any option is on the table,” including, presumably, a ban.

Trumka’s comments sparked a storm of criticism. Within hours, the White House issued a statement saying that President Joe Biden doesn’t support a ban on gas stoves.

What has since been dubbed the “gas stove culture war” was ignited in July 2019, when Berkeley became the first municipality in the country to ban the use of gas. Since then, as I explained in January, (See: “The Billionaires Behind The Gas Bans”), several NGOs, including Climate Imperative, the Sierra Club, and Rocky Mountain Institute, as well as Rewiring America, have spent untold (and undisclosed) millions of dollars campaigning and lobbying at the local and national levels to ban the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses. And thanks to remarkably friendly (and largely unquestioning) coverage from legacy media outlets, they’ve had undeniable success.

The Sierra Club, which operates on an annual budget of about $180 million, says 74 communities in California have “adopted gas-free buildings commitments or electrification building codes.” But that number doesn’t include the most recent ban. On April 13, the Irvine City Council, again according to the Sierra Club, adopted measures mandating that all new buildings be all-electric “on or after July 1, 2023. That puts the number of California communities that have banned gas at 75. The group isn’t just pushing for restrictions in its home state. Last August, it asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ban natural gas appliances at the federal level.

In September, the California Air Resources Board voted to ban the sale of all gas-fired space heaters and water-heating appliances in the state by 2030. New York City and Seattle have banned the use of gas in new construction. Massachusetts is also rolling out a measure that will allow up to 10 communities to ban gas.

As I reported last month (See: “California Screamin’”), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District recently approved regulations that will ban the use of residential and commercial natural gas-fired water heaters and furnaces. The regulation, which only applies to new appliances, prohibits residents in the Bay Area from buying or installing gas water heaters starting in 2027. Also last month, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, said she is working on a “climate friendly” building code that will hamper or––in the words of the Boston Globe, “discourage”––the use of hydrocarbons in new buildings in Boston.

Following the proliferation of gas bans requires following the money. The Sierra Club has been a prime beneficiary of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has pledged $500 million to the Beyond Carbon project. In 2019, the pledge was considered the largest ever “philanthropic donation to combat climate change.” The Sierra Club is now getting about $30 million per year from Bloomberg.

For several years, the Rocky Mountain Institute, a group that took in $115 million in 2022, has been ginning up bogus studies that claim gas stoves are a threat to human health. And like the Sierra Club, it is getting big money from super-rich donors. In 2020, the Bezos Earth Fund gave RMI $10 million. RMI said the cash from the group, which, of course, came from Amazon founder and multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos, would help fund its “work with a coalition of partners in key states. The project will focus on making all U.S. buildings carbon-free by 2040 by advocating for all-electric new construction.”

In January, numerous national news stories were published after RMI issued a paper claiming that 12.7 percent of childhood asthmas are due to gas stoves. One of the authors of that paper, Talor Gruenwald, works at RMI. Gruenwald is also a research associate at Rewiring America, a San Francisco-based outfit that calls itself the “leading electrification nonprofit, focused on electrifying our homes, businesses, and communities.” Rewiring America is funded entirely by dark money. It doesn’t publish its budget or file a Form 990. Instead, it is a sponsored project of the Windward Fund, a 501c3 non-profit that does not disclose its donors. Nor does the Windward Fund reveal how much it is giving to Rewiring America.

The January RMI paper didn’t stand up to even modest scrutiny. The definitive analysis of indoor air pollution and gas stoves was published in 2013 in Lancet Respiratory Medicine. It studied half a million schoolchildren in 47 countries over a multi-year period and relied on questionnaires that were filled out by the mothers of the children. It concluded, “We detected no evidence of an association between the use of gas as a cooking fuel and either asthma symptoms or asthma diagnosis.”

Furthermore, just a day or two after the RMI paper came out, the group walked back its claim about asthma, with one RMI official telling the Washington Examiner that the study “does not assume or estimate a causal relationship” between childhood asthma and natural gas stoves.

April 18, 2023 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | ,

1 Comment »

  1. AND, of course, there is no guarantee how the electricity is produced – could be by coal.
    In Europe they have been using a more subtle tactic. They are legislating on the amount of CO2 a gas water heater or boiler produces. The defined levels are so low that it is impossible to have a machine that would actuallly work if the norms become law.
    Without a cheap reliable means of heating through the winter months old people will die. Apparently we are not saving the planet for old people (like me).

    We have a large scale market gardener just down the road from where I live – they pump CO2 from paraffin heaters into the greenhouses because it makes the fruit and vegetables grow more quickly. Under 200 parts per million of CO2 plant life cannot effect photosynthesis – it would just die – we are only at just over 400 ppm at the moment – in submarines they are 5000-7000 ppm without any adverse effects on humans.
    As there is no credible evidence of CO2 creating significant rises in tempreature in relation to other factors of warming I think there is a good case for saving the lives of all those old fogeys that might just enrich the planet with their experience and knowledge a little longer; before becoming compost.


    Comment by redracam | April 19, 2023 | Reply

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