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‘Huge amount of money’ in climate law could spawn gas bans – E&E News

The climate and energy law signed by President Joe Biden last month may reshape a national tug of war over gas bans and electrification, with the outcome influencing emissions and fossil fuel development for decades.

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The climate and energy law signed by President Joe Biden last month may reshape a national tug of war over gas bans and electrification, with the outcome influencing emissions and fossil fuel development for decades.

Billions of dollars in new federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act are set to flow to building owners and residents who swap out gas boilers, stoves and water heaters for electric-powered technologies. The dollars come on top of city-level policies in at least seven states banning fossil fuels in new buildings, including dozens of municipalities in California that followed the city of Berkeley in enacting the nation’s first gas ban in 2019. New York City, Seattle and much of the state of Washington followed with similar measures.

Additional bans could emerge in new jurisdictions partly because of the new federal law, some electrification advocates said.

The climate law signed by Biden in August “totally transforms all of those conversations [over banning fossil fuels] and makes all of this so, so much easier,” said Ben Furnas, a former sustainability chief for New York City, where lawmakers passed a law last year prohibiting new buildings from using fossil fuel heat, starting in 2023 (Energywire, Dec. 15, 2021).

Yet gas advocates are vowing to fight electrification mandates, and they may get help from state officials, existing statutes and a lawsuit in California. Twenty states also have passed laws that preempt cities from restricting buildings’ access to fossil fuels, meaning the Inflation Reduction Act’s voluntary electrification programs won’t lead to New York City-style bans.

“Over the past three years, we have seen the energy policy debate veer away from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to an anti-fossil fuel and anti-infrastructure push,” said George Lowe, vice president of governmental affairs and public policy for the American Gas Association, in a written statement.

Limiting fossil fuel access is a “mistake” that would “negatively impact customers and keep us from achieving our shared goals” for decarbonization, Lowe added. “Over the next several years, we will continue to see these debates play out in state capitols across the country,” he predicted.

The climate law provides tax credits for installing heat pumps, rebates for whole-home retrofits, and extra financing for local and state programs that promote electrification of buildings. Under the plan, U.S. manufacturers of heat pumps could also see the Department of Energy step up as a buyer, drawing from $500 million in new Defense Production Act funds (Energywire, June 7).

In some cases, funds from the law could pay for higher-performing gas products, but billions are allocated explicitly for abandoning fossil fuels.

One such program, known as the High-Efficiency Electric …….

Source: https://www.eenews.net/articles/huge-amount-of-money-in-climate-law-could-spawn-gas-bans/

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