On October 26, Representative Nick Langworthy (NY-23) announced the introduction of H.R. 6089, “The Energy Choice Act.” The bill, cosponsored by an additional 11 members of Congress, would prohibit any state or local government from banning an energy service’s connection, reconnection, modification, installation, or expansion based on the type or source of energy to be delivered. Rep. Langworthy’s effort to protect Americans’ right to choose their desired energy source comes as his home state of New York has recently passed a devasting law that would ban most gas-fueled appliances in new buildings over the next several years. New York is the first state in the country to do this.
Unfortunately, proposed policies banning energy sources like natural gas are becoming more and more common across the United States. Since 2019, there have been an observed 170 attempts by local governments across the country to limit gas infrastructure according to the National Propane Gas Association. Most notably, the city of Berkley, California became the first major city in the U.S. to ban new gas hookups with the passage of a 2019 ordinance. Activists have attempted to continue this momentum by advocating for similar policies before city and state governments in dozens of states. These misguided efforts are borne out of a misunderstanding of the benefits natural gas offers as a reliable, efficient, and affordable source of energy.
The truth is that the public overwhelmingly supports the use of natural gas in homes and businesses. According to the National Restaurant Association, only 20% of consumers support bans on natural gas connections and a further 66% are concerned about the financial impacts these types of bans will have on small businesses. Twenty-five states have pushed back against activists’ harmful efforts by passing statewide laws similar to what Rep. Langworthy’s Energy Choice Act would do at the federal level. Also, a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Berkley, California’s natural gas ban has called into question the constitutionality of local energy bans in the United States.
Laws that limit access to any form of energy at any level of government strip Americans of their freedom to determine what energy best fits their unique needs. Public gas systems provide energy to thousands of Americans at affordable rates. Local bans on natural gas limit the important work of public gas utilities and force consumers to choose alternatives with increased installation costs, higher energy rates, and less reliable service. Public gas systems need Congress to pass the Energy Choice Act and ensure that consumers across the country are free to decide for themselves what energy source best fits their needs.
For questions on this article, please contact Josh St.Pierre of APGA staff by phone at 202-407-0015 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.