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To cut down on greenhouse gases and fracking, Seattle considers natural gas ban

The Seattle City Council will begin the process Friday for firing up a possible ban on natural gas in new construction — but don’t worry, chef, your gas ranges will probably be safe for now.

The legislation would prohibit natural gas hookups in new homes and apartment buildings starting in 2020. Council member Mike O’Brien will take up the proposal Friday afternoon in his sustainability committee session.

According to the legislation, about a quarter of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions come from natural gas use and the industry’s use of fracking is a growing concern.

“This is a logical next step toward implementing a Green New Deal for Seattle,” Jess Wallach of climate justice advocacy group 350 Seattle said in a statement on the proposal. “It is a commonsense policy that protects the health of Seattle residents, as well as helps to ensure that we are doing our bit to curtail catastrophic climate change.”

The Seattle Times reports that O’Brien says that exemptions for restaurants might be added to the legislation because “there aren’t great alternatives at the moment for commercial-scale cooking without gas.”

In August, the council approved a Green New Deal resolution for the city setting out an ambitious roster of goals for addressing climate change.

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12 thoughts on “To cut down on greenhouse gases and fracking, Seattle considers natural gas ban

    • Er, how would eliminating natural gas in new buildings increase costs? In fact, they would decrease building costs, as you’re already running electricity to each unit and gas is actually the unique outlier. Or maybe you think they wouldn’t otherwise have electricity?

      The longer term impact on rates on gas vs. electricity, when it comes to cooking specifically, are a buck or two a month. Electric ranges and stoves also cost less, so it’d be a few years before you’d offset the extra cost of a gas stove with the gas savings relative to electricity.

  1. And who supplies electricity in Seattle? Seattle City Light!
    What a windfall for the city coffers. I can see the rates going up already.

    • City light accounts are separate from the general fund, so the idea that the city is doing this to raise money is without basis.

  2. Seems like an interesting idea. Berkeley leads the country again… and O’Brien shows an impressive amount of pull on the council for a lame duck?

    Anecdotally, our home’s gas bill (for heat and the range) is never half the price of electric, even in the winter.

  3. I think the city should focus on solving the real and immediate problems the city has. I know addressing homelessness, garbage, traffic and the like is not as sexy as new climate change ideas. But the reality is the city will be an unlivable, dytopian landfill long before a proposal that only affects new construction has any effect (the existing housing stock has a 100 year useful life).

    Oh, and maybe fix City Light first too, given they are currently being sued for wildly inaccurate estimated readings (I personally had City Light not read my meter for 13 months, using estimates that were way low. Then they sent me a $4000 bill and had the audacity to suggest it was my fault because I should have checked my meter and let them know the estimates were wrong.)

  4. So, anyone constructing a new home or any developer developing an apartment building or a condo cannot provide gas heat or a gas stove? Restauranteurs
    can still have gas stoves. WTH? This is all so sick and insane and irrelevant. I wouldn’t trust a Seattle City Council study on gas omissions if you paid me a million dollars.

    No city council member should ever be allowed to travel out of state on a plane to go to conferences to share stupid ideas like this if we can’t have a gas range. SKYPE idiots. They cause more global warming then I do with my gas stovetop.

    Mike O’Brien is an arrogant POS and Seattle is losing its mind.

      • So tell me what paper says gas ranges are causing the end of the planet! Go ahead, sign onto this, be beholden to Seattle City Light well dams close and electricity becomes prohibitively expensive. There is a cost to electricity, there’s a cost to dumping batteries, there is a cost to being a vegan. I think you should read some alternate research. Think outside your little box.

  5. The bigger problem I have with natural gas is that leaks can lead to catastrophic explosions. An entire block (!) was leveled by a gas explosion in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood a few years ago, and a similar-sized disaster happened in NW Portland a few years before that. And just imagine what a major earthquake would do to the gas lines. Beginning the long, slow move away from fossil fuels of all kinds is the prudent thing to do for a number of reasons, pollution being just one of them.

  6. This article has left out a fantastic third cooking option, induction oven cooking. Before we stay naively stuck in old ways, we should assess the options. Change is always occurring and a better option is now trending in the US after gaining popularity in other countries. Phasing out gas cooking with this very viable alternative doesn’t sound so bad to me.

    From: – Induction is able to deliver roughly 80% to 90% of its electromagnetic energy to the food in the pan. Compare that to gas, which converts a mere 38% of its energy, and electric, which can only manage roughly 70%.

    That means induction cooktops not only heat up much faster, but their temperature controls are also far more precise. “It’s an instantaneous reaction in the cookware,” says Robert McKechnie, product development manager at Electrolux. “With radiant you don’t get that.”
    Still need to assess better environmental + performant options to replace gas powered home heating systems.