Taking a cue from what’s happening in California, residents of Brookline, Massachusetts, last week voted to ban the installation of oil and gas pipes in new buildings, as well as in extensive renovations of existing buildings — the first such prohibition in Massachusetts.
The bylaw will require homeowners and developers to install heat, hot water, and appliances that use electricity, the Boston Globe reported.
“We need to do something about climate change,” said Werner Lohe, one of the measure’s sponsors and co-chairman of the town’s climate action committee, the Globe reported. “We need to stop burning fossil fuels inside our buildings … This is the first step in Brookline toward an all-electric, all-renewable-energy world.”
He and other proponents said the measure is necessary here and elsewhere, as buildings are responsible for a significant portion of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, Kallanish Energy learns. In Brookline, buildings are responsible for about two-thirds of all emissions, the Globe reported.
The new bylaw, which must still be approved by the state Attorney General’s office. It was modeled after similar measures adopted in communities throughout California.
While the measure received overwhelming support at Brookline’s town meeting, it was opposed by the fossil fuel industry, real estate developers, and others.
“Prohibiting Brookline residents from choosing an affordable, reliable, and entirely legal heating fuel like natural gas or bioheat is outrageously unfair,” said Stephen Dodge, executive director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council, a trade association for the gas and oil industry.
“If cities and towns can start trying to outlaw utilities licensed by the state Department of Public Utilities from serving willing customers who want to buy energy from them, we’re heading toward regulatory and legal chaos.”
Thomas M. Kiley, president of the Northeast Gas Association, which represents natural gas companies throughout the region, said he expected the new bylaw would be challenged in court.
Thirteen cities and one county in California have enacted new zoning codes encouraging or requiring all-electric new construction.
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