San Francisco becomes latest Democratic city to crack down on gas appliances


March 16, 2023 | 10:52 p.m

San Francisco regulators have introduced regulations banning the future sale of certain natural gas-powered appliances as part of the Democrat-led city’s climate agenda.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which oversees air pollution and emissions regulations for the nine counties surrounding San Francisco, gave the green light Wednesday night to changes to regulations to eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions from natural gas furnaces and water heaters in the region. The measure requires all commercial and residential stoves and water heaters to be electric by 2027.

“The 1.8 million water heaters and stoves in the Bay Area have a significant impact on our air quality, resulting in dozens of early deaths and a variety of health impacts, particularly in communities of color,” Dr. Philip Fine, the chief executive of the Air District, said in a statement Wednesday.

“This landmark regulation will phase out the most polluting devices in homes and businesses to protect Bay Area residents from the harmful air pollution they create.”

San Francisco is the latest city to consider banning natural gas-powered appliances.
Getty Images
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has given the green light to the rule changes.

The action notably omits the ban on gas-powered stoves, which have been the subject of widespread attention since a federal agency signaled it would review the device’s public health effects earlier this year. The Biden administration eventually signaled that it had no intention of banning gas stoves, but later imposed tough restrictions and asked for public feedback on health effects.

Additionally, the Air District regulations do not require consumers to immediately switch to electric alternatives once they come into effect. Rather, it prohibits the purchase of new gas-powered products.

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“The rule changes will improve overall regional air quality by ventilating these outdoor devices, reduce exposure to particulate matter, particularly in communities of color, and avoid up to $890 million per year in health effects from exposure to air pollution.” the agency said in a statement.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has also signaled support for a crackdown on gas appliances as part of her climate action plan, which calls for reducing city-wide emissions by 60% below 1990 levels by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2040. She said appliances would be a focus for future climate regulation, since buildings alone account for 41% of San Francisco’s emissions.

“I know a lot of people have ties to their gas-powered appliances like stoves and ovens, but if we’re going to be a city that’s truly at the forefront, we all have to do our part,” Breed wrote in a blog post last year.

The changes came after the Air District closed a 45-day public comment period on Feb. 6 for a draft environmental impact report.

Gas stoves are not covered by the ban.
Christopher Sadowski

Meanwhile, a number of Democratic-run cities have also recently introduced their own gas appliance bans. Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and New York City have different regulations Natural gas connection restrictions Effects on gas-fired stoves, ovens and stoves in the last two years.

“New York City is proof that it’s possible to end the fossil fuel era, invest in a sustainable future, protect public health, and create good-paying jobs in the process,” said former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in December 2021. “If America’s largest city can take this crucial step to ban gas use, every city can do the same.”

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After his remarks, de Blasio signed a law mandating the phase-out of fossil fuel use in new buildings. The law, which goes into effect this year and requires new buildings to be fully electric by 2027, has made New York City the largest city and the first major cold-weather city to phase out fossil fuel burning in new construction.

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