Indiana’s House of Representatives passed a bill that, if it becomes law, would prohibit municipalities and other local governments in the state from banning natural gas hookups for new businesses and homes, for heat, cooking, or other uses.
The bill’s sponsors and those testifying in favor of HB 1191 say the legislation secures consumers’ abilities to choose to use natural gas, which is commonly cheaper and more reliable than electricity, to cook, to heat buildings, to heat water, and for industrial uses.
The Energy News Network reports representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and trade associations representing Indiana’s builders and manufacturers, testified in support of HB 1191. AARP’s representative said seniors and those on fixed incomes should not be denied access natural gas appliances whose cost, and the cost of running them, are often less expensive than appliances powered by electricity. The industry groups testified continued access to natural gas is crucial to maintaining Indiana’s manufacturing and construction competitiveness.
Per Indiana House rules, the bill had its third reading and was passed on February 2, by a vote of 67 state representatives in favor of the bill and 28 members opposed. HB 1191 was referred to the Senate Utilities Committee for consideration.
Acting Preemptively to Bar Gas Bans
Although no Indiana municipality has thus far proposed banning new gas hookups, HB 1191’s author state Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) said he wished to preempt localities from following the lead of cities like Berkeley and San Francisco in California, that have already banned gas hookups in new construction.
“Natural gas is the angst behind this, [the] possibility of banning gas-fired water heaters, gas-fired appliances, gas-fired barbecue grills,” Pressel said at a January 13 hearing on his bill.
“Natural gas is probably one of the most reliable and cost-effective ways to heat your house and we should not have a ban on any source of energy if it makes sense.”
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.