To stop climate change, sale of gas furnaces and gas water heaters may be banned

A typical home gas meter.

Jan. 19, 2023

By Emily Mibach
Daily Post Staff Writer

The Bay Area Air Quality District board will vote March 15 whether to ban new gas-powered furnaces and water heaters, something Mid-Peninsula cities have been considering in order to stop global warming.

Most cities in the area have approved what are called “reach codes,” which ban new gas appliances in most new construction. Palo Alto and Menlo Park officials want to go further and are looking at ways to get residents to replace their gas-burning appliances with electric ones.

The air district, headed by a board comprised of officials from throughout the Bay Area, will discuss a regional ban on the sale of gas-burning water heaters by 2027 and furnaces by 2029.

The board will also consider a ban on water heaters in apartments and commercial buildings starting in 2031.

Scarcity of electric appliances

The over four-year delay in implementation is because of the current expense and scarcity of electric appliances. But both Palo Alto Councilman Pat Burt and a report to the air quality district from December predict that the cost will go down and availability will go up for such appliances.

Burt, who has worked on the city’s environmental goals, said yesterday that the air quality district did not bring this idea to the city. He said instead it appears that the city and the air quality district are on “somewhat parallel paths” in regards to boosting electric appliances in hopes to reduce the greenhouse gas emitting natural gas appliances.

Palo Alto has a Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, or S/CAP, which outlines how the city intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030. As part of that plan, the city is looking at ways to entice homeowners and property owners to replace the heaters and furnaces to electric alternatives.

Burt said he thinks the air quality district’s proposal would support the S/CAP. In particular, it could dovetail nicely with the city’s program to get residents to switch to gas-powered water heaters near the end of their useful life.

Proposal doesn’t ban gas stoves

The air quality district isn’t planning to ban gas-burning stoves. That became a hot topic nationally last week when former labor leader Richard Trumka Jr., now a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said a ban on gas-burning stoves is an option to deal with concerns that gas appliances give off unhealthy fumes in the home.

That set off a controversy with Republicans saying they would fight any attempt by the government to take away gas-burning stoves.

Trumka’s comments were in response to a report by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a liberal think-tank near Aspen, Colo., which said that nearly 13% of childhood asthma cases are caused by gas stoves.

After the controversy erupted, the consumer commission said it wasn’t considering a ban of gas stoves.

However, the regional air quality board, which includes San Mateo and Santa Clara county officials, will be voting on the matter come March 15. The agency is also accepting feedback on the proposed plan until Feb. 6. Information on providing feedback can be found at https://bit.ly/3XtjPl2 or by emailing Jennifer Elwell at jelwell@baaqmd.gov.

Those deciding on the ban will include San Mateo County Supervisors Noelia Corzo and Ray Mueller, Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee, Belmont Vice Mayor Davina Hurt and Mountain View Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga.

Correction: This story has been modified to correct an error about what kind of electric appliances the city will help finance. The program only applies to the replacement of gas-powered water heaters.

12 Comments

  1. Wonderful. The next time the power goes out for an extended period, I will enjoy sitting in the dark, shivering in the cold because wood burning stoves and firelaces are also banned, eating cereal and whatever else doesn’t need to be heated, unshowered, and enjoying the rotting food in my refrigerator, all to serve the dystopian hysterics of Greta Thunberg.

    • Those “luxuries” will be banned for the overwhelming majority of ordinary people. Greta and the jet-setting Davos big-money types will never go cold or hungry. This is a rotten trick to play on us.

  2. I’m sure they backed off of their plans to take our gas stoves just because they got heat over it (pardon the pun). But I’m sure that’s next. I don’t know anybody who is in favor of this. And I don’t see the point when China and Germany are burning coal like mad. Whatever sacrifices are meaningless. I feel like there’s another agenda here.

  3. This is supposed to be a country of limited government. So-called climate change measures are sounding awfully despotic to me. At least “Covid” has the benefit of being somewhat temporary – though the long-term health and psychological damage of lockdowns and masks will be felt for many more years if not decades – as the 2019 “SARS-CoV-2” virus can’t last forever as much as autocrats would like. There is nothing temporary about the climate change agenda, sort of like the war on terror.

    Though I will admit that part me wants the radical left to have everything it wants, including reinstating lockdowns and mask mandates. Maybe then, and only then, will people wake up and realize all we have lost, including our liberties, with no countervailing benefits.

  4. The democrat party has never been the party of economic progress in this country. The blue hairs are literally turning this country into a 3rd world squalor.

  5. Homes with gas stoves have much higher rates of asthma.
    Some inconvenience is the price of reducing global warming which is destroying swaths of homes and killing people from heat and from storms.
    I am fine with an electric stove and have a little camping stove for emergencies.

    • Homes with swimming pools also have higher rates of drowning. Homes with guns have more gun shooting accidents. Men commit more crimes than women. The crime rate would be drastically reduced if we imprisoned all boys and men between the ages of 16-30…not counting prison crimes. Women with their hair covered are less likely to be sexually assaulted in public than women who wear mini skirts. Permanent lockdowns with mandatory quarantines and no human contact whatsoever can slow the spread of Covid. Do you see where this leads to?

    • The asthma story was concocted by an anti-fossil fuel think tank. There is no actual data behind this claim. Indeed, the pollution from applying heat to food – e.g. vaporized cooking oil – totally dominates emissions from creating the heat.

      The bigger problem is with using electric heat pumps in place of gas furnaces. On cold winter nights, our electricity comes from burning natural gas. Using that to generate electricity for electric heat pumps requires up to three times as much natural gas as a gas furnace.

      These initiatives will increase fossil fuel use at very great expense. Even if they met the foolish expectations of their sponsors they would make not a whit of difference to the climate.

  6. I always like to ask why. The push to replace efficient natural gas water heaters and furnaces with electric begs the question. The answer is to completely eliminate the use of natural gas. But how can the Bay Area Air Quality Management District make a decision so arbitrary? The board of (BAAQMD) is formed from reps of the 9 counties in the bay area, and have achieved some good changes, some not. The Genesis of BAAQMD is the EPA. The EPA has more power than even the US Congress. So the basis for the elimination of natural gas is not because it is environmentally harmful, but just the desire of extremists to eliminate the use of any association to oil, but we are nowhere near ready to convert everything to electric.

  7. Among other incentives, the Air District Rule will have customers choosing to buy Energy Star heat pumps that qualify for upfront federal incentives of $8,000 and $4,000 for low and middle income households and that qualify for $2,000 federal tax credits all tax payers. Those rules will also have customers choosing to buy Energy Star heat pump water heaters that qualify for upfront federal incentives of $1,750 and $875 for low and middle income households and that qualify for $2,000 federal tax credits all tax payers. Consider replacing early if you don’t trust the incentives to last the full 10 years scheduled. Or ask the Air District to implement the rule earlier, so it coincides with the federal incentives for more years, and it gives us clean air sooner.

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