Governor Hochul is pushing back against the fear that she’s coming after homeowners’ gas stoves. She insists that she’s not, and that she’d “like to deal in the truth here because a lot of that isn’t getting out.”
Fair enough, so let’s deal with that truth.
First, it’s true that Hochul didn’t recommend a gas stove ban in her 2023 State of the State address. While she did say she wants to “prohibit the sale of any new fossil fuel heating equipment by no later than 2030 for smaller buildings, and no later than 2035 for larger buildings,” she made no mention of prohibiting the sale of other fossil fuel appliances – stoves, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers.
But the Governor’s silence on those appliances doesn’t settle the issue, and any suggestion that it does violates her urging that we “deal in the truth.”
The truth is that the Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan explicitly recommends banning sales of fossil-fuel fired hot water heaters in 2030 and fossil-fuel fired clothes dryers and stoves in 2035.
The truth is that this Scoping Plan is the roadmap that the state legislature and all state agencies are supposed to follow to implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).
The truth is that the Governor or her successor(s) could follow up this year’s recommendations for action in future years, or the legislature could on its own.
The truth is that the Department of Environmental Conservation is supposed to make rules implementing the CLCPA and could begin the regulatory rule-making process to ban these appliances without the Governor’s direct prompting.
And the truth is that advocates of eliminating all fossil-fuel equipment from New York’s economy are not going to give up in despair just because the Governor didn’t – at least not yet – advocate every recommendation from the Scoping Plan.
There’s another, less visible truth, as well. The goal of anti-fossil fuel activists is to continually reduce the use of natural gas until the pipeline distribution system becomes economically unsustainable. The Scoping Plan has a whole chapter discussing the “strategic downsizing” of the gas system. And while the goal of making it economically unsustainable is not made explicit, it is the foreseeable result of this downsizing strategy.
The more homes that are forced or incentivized to switch to all-electric, the fewer gas customers there are left to cover the cost of maintaining this large distribution system. That will put cost pressure on those remaining gas customers, forcing more of them to switch to electricity. That puts further cost pressure on the remaining customers, and so on, until maintaining the system is no longer financially sustainable.
With this long-range strategy, no explicit ban is even necessary.
This will not affect propane stoves and appliances, of course, because they are not fed by a pipeline system. So they may get at least a temporary reprieve. But they are clearly targeted by the Scoping Plan and anti-fossil fuel activists as well.
In brief, while it’s true that Hochul did not propose a ban on replacement fossil fuel-powered appliances in this year’s State of the State address, there is plenty of time between now and 2035 for her, a successor, or the DEC to act in conformity to the recommendations set out in the state’s CLCPA Scoping Plan. Even if they don’t act to enact an explicit ban, the Scoping Plan lays out of goal of diminishing the infrastructure for gas delivery.
So don’t believe those who are now naysaying the idea of a gas appliance ban. Gas and propane users will need to organize effectively to make their voices heard if they are to prevent a forced transition to electric appliances.