Opinion: Let the voters decide on a natural gas ban

OPINION

BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor

The climate change debate is hitting home, literally.

Menlo Park City Council on Tuesday (Aug. 31) will discuss the radical idea of prohibiting homeowners from replacing broken gas water heaters, stoves and other gas appliances with new ones. Instead, they’ll have to buy electric devices.

The longterm goal is to eliminate natural gas use because it’s seen as a contributor to global warming.

But why should little Menlo Park, with a population of 34,000, have to sacrifice when countries such as China, India and Russia aren’t cutting back their emissions?

On Jan. 27, in a White House briefing, President Biden’s climate czar, John Kerry, admitted that even if the U.S. reduced its emissions to zero, it wouldn’t make much of a difference in the global climate change fight.

“Not when almost 90% of all of the planet’s global emissions come from outside the U.S. borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved,” said Kerry, the former secretary of state and 2004 presidential candidate who heads climate policy in the Biden administration.

Well, maybe the members of the Menlo Park City Council know better than John Kerry.

But do these council members practice what they preach?

It would be interesting to know how many council members have given up gas appliances and gone all-electric.

In fact, at Tuesday’s hearing, anyone going to the microphone to support the gas ban should bring their PG&E bill to prove to the audience that they’re not using natural gas.

This is an emotional topic for people who don’t want to lose their gas appliances, particularly their stoves. People love cooking with gas. They’re frustrated because they have to make a sacrifice that will be meaningless in the bigger scheme so council members can virtue signal.

If council is serious about this ban, then put it to the voters in the November 2022 election.

Let the community decide. If residents think this is an important step toward stopping climate change, then the ban will pass.

Council should trust that the residents will educate themselves on the subject. None of the council members are experts on stopping climate change, so they don’t have any special expertise that would make them better decision-makers than the average resident.

I suspect the promoters of the gas ban would argue against an election. They’d say that it’s too expensive for the city to put a question on the ballot — maybe half a million dollars. But that’s insignificant compared to the cumulative cost of residents forced to switch from gas to electric.

But the real reason why they would oppose an election is that it would expose how much (or how little) support there is for such virtue signaling.

Climate change is something everyone says they believe in. People say they believe in it because they don’t want to get into arguments with extremists. They don’t want to lose their jobs, have their kids harassed or have their business boycotted.

It’s easier to pretend you agree than argue with somebody who, in the end, will start calling you names when they lose the argument.

But the beauty of an election is that your vote is secret. You don’t have to worry about somebody intimidating you.

So, to the city council, if you believe this ban is a good idea, you shouldn’t fear asking the voters to ratify your decision.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is price@padailypost.com.

17 Comments

  1. If China won’t cut its emissions, why are we sacrificing? I’d like to have one of the council members explain that.

  2. I think the current fire in Tahoe just released in one day more “toxic greenhouse gases” than the entirety of Menlo Park will in say 10 years. So, kind of hope we discuss bang for the buck kind of things before we get to the last 0.001% issues. AND who is funding all these “electrification studies”???

  3. We need to decarbonize now! We have less than 10 years left. I’m afraid for my children. When they’re grown the earth will be on fire! This is already happening in our forests. We have no time to wait!

    • You are hysterical. The accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere as a cause of global warming and the end of life on our planet is a political joke. The atmosphere is saturated with CO2, which implies that adding more molecules will not cause more warming. https://www.cfact.org/2020/09/26/study-suggests-no-more-co2-warming/

      The layer of CO2 in our atmosphere does the greenhouse effect by reflecting the Gamma and UV radiation and transmitting the visible and IR light and also does not allow to lose the heat coming from the earth’s surface. CO2 is very beneficial because plants absorb CO2 and give the oxygen needed for our life. It will be a disaster if we lose CO2 from the atmosphere.

  4. Dave makes a great point. The proposed debacle was formulated by unelected mountebanks, why should we not have an opportunity to dismiss it outright?

  5. Dave and those reading the article / comment, I warmly invite you to see and experience an all electric home (including induction stove, heat pump, convection clothes dryer, hot tub & more), Please come by for a coffee or tea and tour ProjectGreenHome.org, 314 Stanford Ave Palo Alto. Being all electric is saving me $$$ & time. More importantly, it’s better for me & my family’s health with superior indoor air quality over a gas stove/ powered home plus the much much lower potential for burns and in the long term related to climate change that we are already experiencing now and is only getting worse. Logistics: email me, SvenThesen { } gmail.{ } Given the Delta variant, I would ask that you confirm that you have been vaccinated, we will all wear masks and keep the windows open. I look forward to meeting you and your readers in person at ProjectGreenHome.org

    • Thank you for the offer to tour your home.

      Two points: (a) Personal choice and individual liberty: It’s the responsibility of local government to supply more than enough energy to meet the needs of residents; it’s not the responsibility of local government to limit energy availability. Electric or gas appliances – or both – is my choice. (b) Electricity – in CA – is not a reliable source of energy. (It may be reliable in some areas but it is not reliable across the state.) Unless energy policy in CA changes, it’s not practical to consider all-electric cities. (What is your personal contingency plan, if you were to lose electricity?)

      You mention the vaccine and the delta variant: (a) Since the protection offered by the vaccine wanes over time, it might be wise to ask the date of vaccination, as well. (b) Since the effectiveness of the original vaccine against the delta variant is only about 40% (compared to 90% for the original strain), about 60% of those vaccinated could, in fact, be ill.

  6. There is a another good reason to stop gas service in residential and other areas. That is, this is a serious earthquake hazard area. Today, most of the casualties would be from fires and most of those would be gas fires. In the event of the Big One, it’s hard to fight fires with electric power and water service gone. Further, most buildings around here are quite flammable behind the cracked sheetrock. They are nearly all light wood framing and plywood or particle board.

    We can understand that chefs like gas. But modern electronic controls are easily possible. Their price should come down because of volume use in electric vehicles. In an earthquake area, gas isn’t worth the risk anywhere.

  7. The issue reflects an increasing and worrisome lack of good sense in our local and state government and in the social transformation being pushed by big tech. What started as a positive Whole Earth movement in the 1960s – which brought many benefits to the Bay Area – has become a self-serving industry fueled by the cult of Global Warming. It’s all gone too far to fast. It’s good to encourage and advertise adoption of new, reduced energy technologies like induction cooking (which I think has great benefits) but forcing these things is dictatorial. Totally agree, let people decide. We should consider who we are electing more carefully. We elect representatives who, in turn, interpret the win as a chance to push personal agendas. The city council should be focused on best management of the city’s services and infrastructure – not imposing their personal visions of how to save the world. Most people – apparently – keep voting for the same mismanagement every election cycle and then are surprised by things like banning gas. We shouldn’t be – that’s who we voted for. We really should start voting for more practical people with more real experience than just a stint in some activist group. I completely agree with the comment about our wildfires – that is a mess, our wildfire season is one of the worst polluting events on the planet. Let’s fix that before banning people’s stoves.

  8. As opposition grows to this idea, I’m sure Cecilia Taylor or her mom will start calling anyone who wants gas as a racist. Just wait.

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