California city can't enforce natural gas ban, appeals court says

California city can't enforce natural gas ban, appeals court says

From 4-17-23

Berkeley, California, cannot ban natural gas hookups in new buildings because a U.S. federal law preempts its rule, a federal appeals court said Monday, siding with a challenge the state's restaurant industry made.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Berkeley's 2019 ban on new gas hookups effectively barred appliances that use the fuel, and that the U.S. Energy Policy Conservation Act preempts such a move.

The federal appeals court is the first to weigh in on bans against new natural gas hookups. New York City, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle are among dozens of U.S. municipalities that have enacted similar restrictions since Berkeley adopted its rule, citing environmental and health concerns.

The California Restaurant Association challenged the ban in court in 2019 alongside other industry groups including natural gas utilities and homebuilders, claiming the ordinance would introduce major costs and burdens. The restaurant group said the ban would mean restaurants can no longer prepare popular dishes.

Representatives for the restaurant association and the city of Berkeley did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.