A proposal recently passed by the California Air Resources Board has officially banned natural gas furnaces and heaters. The unanimous decision aims to phase out the sale of natural gas space and water heaters by 2030, NPR reported. California is the first state in the country to pass such a ban.
“We need to take every action we can to deliver on our commitments to protect public health from the adverse impacts of air pollution, and this strategy identifies how we can do just that,” Liane Randolph, the California Air Resources Board’s chair, said in a statement. “While this strategy will clean the air for all Californians, it will also lead to reduced emissions in the many low-income and disadvantaged communities that experience greater levels of persistent air pollution.”
The Board proposed the ban this past August. Most of the natural gas demand in California comes from water heaters and space heaters, The Hill reported. Natural gas leaks are dangerous to residents in the home, as exposure to natural gas can cause severe headaches, nausea, fatigue, and even loss of consciousness.
The ban is in part inspired by ozone standards established by the EPA back in 2015. The standard pushed for the country to lower ozone pollution to 70 parts per billion. The EPA strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards in hopes of improving public health, especially for at-risk people like older Americans and those with chronic respiratory issues.
In August 2021, California passed new energy housing codes that incentivized electric appliances and efficient heating and cooling systems—which means opting to use heat pumps. Despite the name, heat pumps are able to both cool and heat homes by using the ground or air outside of the home to keep residents at a comfortable temperature. Heat pumps can also heat water by using electricity, not natural gas.
California officials have pushed several bans this year. In August, the state voted to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 to further improve air quality. It was an ambitious move for the state that buys the most cars in the country. But California is a national environmental trendsetter, and several states may be following in California’s footsteps for their own phaseout of gas-powered cars. And earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board announced it is considering a ban on the sale of diesel commercial trucks by 2040, as part of the plan to ban all fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035. The Board will meet in late October to discuss that particular ban, Deseret News reported.
In June, Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz proposed a ban on new gas stations in the city. His proposal was inspired by the city of Petaluma, California, the first place in the U.S. to ban new stations.