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Building industry demands halt to Washington cities' natural gas ban in wake of ruling

Request comes a recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that overruled a similar ban in Berkley, Calif.

Published: May 19, 2023 11:35pm

(The Center Square) -

The Building Industry Association of Washington, or BIAW, is asking three city attorneys to halt their local natural gas bans on new construction in response to a recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that overruled a similar ban in Berkley, Calif.

The federal court decision invalidated the local ban, arguing that federal law preempts local jurisdiction for installing natural gas piping.

BIAW is currently involved in a lawsuit against the state over a natural gas ban passed by the Washington Energy Code Council. Roughly 30% of Washington homes use natural gas. A Washington bill that would have imposed a similar ban on Puget Sound Energy failed to clear the Legislature.

In a May 18 letter to Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison, BIAW General Counsel Jackson Maynard wrote that our state is under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit, so a final decision will be binding in our state and on local governments, as well as the parties to the case in California. We would prefer to be advisory on this issue rather than adversarial, if possible.”

BIAW sent the same letter to the city attorneys for Shoreline and Bellingham, which have also imposed natural gas bans on new construction.

In a statement, Maynard said that the “lack of energy choice not only affects housing affordability and availability, it also harms potential homeowners in areas where electrical outages threaten families’ abilities to stay warm or cook.”

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