New York – New York state has become the first in the United States to ban the use of fossil fuels, such as gas, in most new buildings starting in 2026, a victory for environmental advocates.
This great victory for environmental activists in this Democratic-majority state is not without its challenges, opposed by the powerful fossil fuel industry and by Republicans reluctant to accept the reality of climate change.
Critics say the law limits consumer choice and will increase bills, since electric power is more expensive than gas. According to the Department of Energy, 52% of New York households use natural gas for apartment heating and cooking.
The United States is the main producer of natural gas in the world and with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in 2022 it became the main exporter of LNG (liquefied natural gas).
“Changing the ways we generate and use energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels will help ensure a healthier environment for us and our children,” State Legislature Speaker Carl Heastie said after the bill passed.
The modification is also of interest to countries like Argentina, which plans to extract large quantities of this hydrocarbon from the Vaca Muerta deposits in the coming years. An increase in this form of conversion against a fuel considered “transitional” could affect those projects.
According to the new law, which will enter into force in 2026 for new buildings with less than 7 floors and by 2029 for the tallest, the gas now used by three out of five homes for heating and cooking will be replaced by electricity from renewable energy sources. .
Hospitals, essential infrastructure and restaurants will be left out of these measures, which are expected to spread throughout the country, a claim that has intensified since the beginning of the year.
The new law does not affect existing buildings, but over time it could undermine the dominance of gas in the state, where 3 out of 5 homes rely on this polluting fossil fuel for heating. Only one in seven homes is heated by electricity, according to the Department of Energy.
Buildings already built will not be affected by the new law.
The ban also affects heating oil and propane, fuels widely used in particular in rural areas of the state.
The new state budget of 229,000 million dollars, approved by parliament on Tuesday night, contemplates the creation of a Climate Action Fund to help the State in the energy transition towards cleaner and more sustainable sources -solar, wind and hydro- in order to meet its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050.