Los Angeles Votes Out Gas Appliances for New Construction

Los Angeles Votes Out Gas Appliances for New Construction

New homes and businesses in Los Angeles won’t be getting gas appliances following a vote by the city council last week. A timeline has yet to be confirmed for the new mandate, but the new construction framework is expected to rollout over the next few years, and the city has set a goal to be fully powered by clean electricity by 2035. Retrofitting existing buildings for a gas-free setup will be the more significant challenge -- especially making the shift equitably with support for low-income families.

In a recent interview, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti told the LA Times: “[The electric transition] is going to happen. It’s going to occur. Our forests are burning, the days are hotter, our floods are more extreme. … Do you want to fight the inevitable or co-author the necessary?”

KTLA 5: LA City Council backs proposal to expand ban on homeless camps near schools, June 1, 2022.

GreenBiz: How to Transform Commercial Buildings to Be Gas-Free, June 7, 2021.

Why This Matters

Gas stoves, water heaters, and other appliances give off climate-damaging carbon dioxide and methane and are responsible for about 10% of California’s emissions. A blanket ban in Los Angeles, the state’s biggest city, will be a step toward ramping down California's overall carbon output. It will also shift the gas demand in the state, where more than 70% of homes in its most populated cities have gas stoves. And switching to electric appliances might help expedite closures of fossil fuel infrastructure in the state, like the Aliso Canyon gas storage field, which had a months-long methane leak in 2015 that forced area residents to evacuate.

To hit climate targets and keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, gas cannot be part of the equation

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: Stanford researchers find high emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants from gas stoves, January 22, 2022.

Bloomberg: Bloomberg Green - The Dangers of Methane Gas, October 11, 2021.

Gas Is An Air Pollution Problem, Too

It’s not just climate-damaging emissions that gas appliances contribute to; they’re also an indoor air pollution liability. A study earlier this year found that gas stoves leak methane even when they aren’t on, exposing people to air pollution that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. According to research out of UCLA, children growing up in a house with a gas stove are ​​42% more likely to have asthma than those with an electric one. The same paper also notes that the nitrogen oxides given off by gas stoves are above the limits tolerated for outdoor air pollution, but aren’t regulated inside.

Verge: Is it time to say goodbye to the gas stove?, April 1, 2021.

KPIX CBS SF Bay Area: San Francisco Approves Ban On Natural Gas In New Construction, November 11, 2021.