Berkeley somehow bans natural gas

The day may come when we run out of stories about the municipal government in Berkeley, California doing hilariously inane things, but today is not that day. Their latest “green” initiative to save the planet involves a ban on natural gas lines or appliances using natural gas in any new construction starting next year. Instead, everyone will need to employ electrical appliances. (CBS San Francisco)


Berkeley’s mayor signed a new city ordinance banning natural gas in new construction projects starting next year.

For years, consumers were told that the desirable fuel was clean burning natural gas.

“Gas is the clean energy relative to coal and diesel, but California has committed to the environmental requirement, in that is all gas has to be gone by mid-century,” Dan Kammen – Professor of Energy, U.C. Berkeley.

And the city of Berkeley is leading the charge with the law that covers new construction.

Furnaces, stoves, water heaters… if they run on natural gas, they all have to go. (This is only for new construction. Existing structures will be grandfathered.)

So this should really address their carbon problem, right? Just think of all that natural gas they won’t be burning! Of course, there are a couple of obvious problems with this. The biggest one is that virtually all of those appliances will be replaced by ones that use electricity. And where does Berkeley get its electricity from? According to the California Energy Commission, 46.5% of the electricity generated in the Golden State comes from burning natural gas, far and away the largest source of power being used. So the more electrical appliances you bring online and the more electricity you suck off the grid, the more natural gas you’re burning.

This is all part of a longer-term plan that will see all natural gas usage in California eliminated by 2050. I wonder how that’s going to work?


California has already pretty much wiped out coal plants and they’ve pretty much maxed out their hydro capacity (much of it is a desert, after all). They’re not allowing any new nuclear plant construction. So how do they propose to take the next step and shut down all natural gas use? They can’t produce anywhere near enough solar and wind energy to replace basically half the juice on the grid.

Well done, Berkeley. (And really all of California.) Have fun sitting in the dark with no air conditioning.

Meanwhile, San Francisco airport has banned plastic bottles of water. I have at least a bit more sympathy for the drive to stop flooding the oceans and landfills with plastics, but it needs to be done intelligently. If you can’t buy a plastic bottle of water in the boarding area and they won’t let you bring your own containers of water through TSA (even if they are glass or metal), what are you supposed to do? This state is regulating its way into the dark ages.

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