Today, the New York State Senate and Assembly released their “one house” budget resolutions, supporting ending fossil fuels in new construction buildings. If passed, New York would become the first state to enact a gas ban by law.
Headed into budget negotiations, the Governor, Senate, and Assembly now all support this critical policy, which is on track to make New York the first state to end gas in new construction by law. Support continues to grow in the Assembly in recent weeks. Last year, the Assembly had held up this policy’s movement, but the chamber’s endorsement clears the way to enactment.
The politically popular move will reduce climate-heating pollution, improve air quality, reduce childhood asthma, and save New Yorkers money — analyses have found that building all-electric would lead to hundreds of dollars in energy cost savings for consumers. As the prices of gas and fuel oil have continued to rise, New Yorkers across the state, regardless of climate zone, would save more with an all-electric home.
With the state budget due April 1, attention now turns to the timeline and other details of a final agreement. Each year, the state adds approximately 250,000 metric tons of climate-heating pollution from the tens of thousands of new homes and buildings that are built to be dependent on gas boilers and furnaces, thereby locking in higher bills and decades of new pollution, and jeopardizing meeting the state’s legally mandated climate targets. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has modeled that all-electric buildings must be implemented globally by 2025 to give humanity a 50/50 chance of staving off 1.5C temperature rise — worldwide climate catastrophe.
Advocates cautioned that enactment of a timeline later than January 1st, 2025 would blow past IEA red lines and needlessly lock New Yorkers into higher bills and air pollution.
“With today’s budget resolution, the Assembly has brought us one step closer to ending the era of polluting, expensive, and dangerous fossil fuels in New York’s buildings and homes,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, the bill’s prime sponsor. “I am so proud to be part of a legislature that rejects the misinformation and fear-mongering of the gas industry, and stands up for the health of our constituents and the future of our planet. Now we must ensure the strongest, swiftest version of this policy is enacted in the final budget. New York is going to make history.”
“The Senate’s budget resolution makes it clear that we need to move as quickly as possible to fully decarbonize our building sector,” said Senator Brian Kavanagh, the bill’s prime sponsor. “Prohibiting gas hookups in new construction is a sensible policy that will prevent generations of new building pollution and help us beat back the climate crisis. We will continue to work with the governor and our colleagues in the Assembly to ensure that the adopted budget includes this critical measure on the fastest possible timeline.”
Governor Hochul’s budget proposal includes ending gas in new construction in smaller buildings a year later than the Senate and Assembly resolutions. It also has a set of gas industry-friendly exemptions including for all commercial buildings, which would not be required to be fossil free until 2029. Advocates praised Hochul’s willingness to support ending gas in new buildings, but urged the governor to enact the All-Electric Building Act’s provisions in the state budget deal, due April 1st.
“The climate crisis demands we move off fossil fuels as fast as possible. Every year we delay takes us one step further to climate chaos,” said Alex Beauchamp, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director. “We can no longer delay electrifying our buildings every time the fossil fuel industry throws a few dollars into the political arena. Governor Hochul and the Assembly must join the Senate in furthering policies that address the true scale and urgency of the crisis and align with the recommendations of the state’s Climate Action Council. New York needs a gas ban by January 1, 2025.”
“Ending gas in new construction will cut pollution and save New Yorkers money. We applaud the Legislature for including this historic action in their state budget proposals, clearing the way to action our communities need. But Governor Hochul and the Assembly should agree to the Senate’s position to end gas in new construction statewide no later than December 31st 2024/January 1st, 2025. That’s a red line for us because our communities can’t wait for action, since asthma is very common, we get hurt badly in a growing climate crisis, and we need to save money on utility bills,” said Elaine Blair, a homeowner in St. Albans, Queens and member of New York Communities for Change.
“With the Assembly, Senate, and governor all including gas-free new construction plans in their budgets, New Yorkers stand to gain better air quality, more green jobs, and utility savings. But we have no time to delay,” said Megan Ahearn, NYPIRG’s Program Director. “The oil and gas industry is raking in record profits and spending big money on disinformation campaigns to stall action, but New Yorkers see through that and want climate action now. The Governor and Legislature must enact electric new buildings without delays, and without large carve-outs.”
“Following enactment of New York’s nation-leading climate law, New York is on track to lead the nation again by stopping the use of fossil-fuels in new buildings — but time is of the essence,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate with Earthjustice. “As the state with the highest building-sector emissions and most premature deaths in the country from fossil fuel combustion in buildings, this policy could not be more important for Governor Hochul and the Legislature to follow through on with a fast timeline. We applaud the Legislature for including the All-Electric Building Act in their one-house budget resolutions and urge for the final budget to include a start date no later than December 31, 2024.”
“New York State has another opportunity to lead the country on climate action by ending the use of fossil fuels in new construction. Studies have found that air pollution from buildings burning fossil fuels causes nearly 2,000 premature deaths each year across New York State, and we also know that communities of color are exposed to the highest amounts of air pollution. Every year we delay, we put many more vulnerable New Yorkers at risk,” said Sonal Jessel, MPH, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “It’s time we stopped enabling the deadly fossil fuel industry, which has enjoyed record profits, and instead take steps to protect the health and safety of people of color. New York State cannot afford to wait any longer. We must pass the All-Electric Building Act now.”
The #GasFreeNY campaign includes AIA-NY, Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, NYPIRG, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.