Gov. Abbott signs bill prohibiting municipalities from banning natural gas use

Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor, May 26, 2021

(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that prohibits cities from banning natural gas utilities. Because it received overwhelming support in the House and the Senate, the law takes effect immediately.

House Bill 17 was introduced by state Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, in response to municipalities taking measures to ban the use of natural gas.

Berkeley, California, for example, banned gas hook-ups for new construction in order to “minimize carbon impact.”

And the city of Austin introduced a “climate action plan” that would have virtually eliminated gas use in new buildings by 2030. The city’s plan was altered after Texas Gas Service opposed the measure, the Texas Observer, reported. But now the law would prevent such a plan altogether.

The city of Dallas also attempted to ban natural gas in home appliances and heating systems.

The new law was hailed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation as a way to prevent municipalities from “creating California-style bans on natural gas utilities.”

TPPF’s Jason Isaacs argues that municipalities that ban the use of natural gas do not improve the environment or impact climate change in any meaningful way. Instead, they increase costs for consumers, and specifically the cost of living for low-income families who can least afford increased electric prices.

“Texans should be allowed the freedom to make this choice for themselves, particularly since studies show banning natural gas in homes would have no meaningful impact on our environment,” Isaacs said.

Texas also follows a similar move made by Arizona, whose legislature last year also barred cities form implementing natural gas bans. Other states like Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma either passed similar bans or have proposed them.

The laws, in general, prohibit municipalities from banning natural gas hookups, preserving consumer choice and preventing a patchwork of regulations.

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