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Largest U.S. Gas Utility Sues California Over Climate Policy

Southern California Gas Co is suing the California Energy Commission over the state’s climate policy and attempts to phase out natural gas as a source of heating and cooking.

Southern California Gas Co, owned by Sempra Energy, is trying to shield itself from policy actions that could ban the hook-up of natural gas for all new homes.

The California Energy Commission, for its part, is promoting building efficiency and emissions-cutting rules for new construction, encouraging home developers to build all-electric buildings in the state. 

For example, last year, Berkeley, California, passed an ordinance requiring all new homes to be all-electric with no gas hook-ups beginning in January 2020. Berkeley’s primary motivation for the gas hook-up ban was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of clean energy.  

Climate activists say that natural gas is a fossil fuel and is responsible for a large part of emissions from buildings, while natural gas companies are pitching natural gas as an affordable and stable ‘bridge’ fuel toward all-renewable electricity generation.

“Natural gas and renewable gas are clean, affordable, resilient, and reliable sources of energy on which millions of California consumers and businesses depend,” Southern California Gas Co said in its lawsuit, as carried by the Los Angeles Times.  

“Natural gas has played a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality,” the company added.

California, New York, and Massachusetts have started the process of phasing out natural gas. In fact, in California, some 30 cities have already banned natural gas in new buildings.

In another California lawsuit over the natural gas phase-out, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) sued the City of Berkeley last year over the ban on the use of natural gas in newly built buildings, in order to protect Berkeley’s businesses and consumers from having to pay higher energy bills.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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