The Indiana General Assembly is considering a bill to prohibit the state’s cities, towns, and counties from banning new natural gas hook-ups. Under certain restrictions, the same legislation would allow state-funded universities to bar natural gas hook-ups in new building and require the use of proven energy efficient materials.
State Rep. Edmond Soliday (R-Valparaiso) and Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), sponsored House Bill 1191, the gas hook-up bill. Pressel, who is also a home builder, argues banning natural gas from homes and appliances would drive up the cost of homes and that home buyers should be allowed to make their own energy choices.
Pressel’s bill was passed by the House and has moved to the Senate for consideration.
Some cities and counties in states controlled by Democrats, for instance, California and Massachusetts, have passed ordinances banning natural gas in new buildings, citing climate concerns as justifying their actions. By contrast, four Republican-controlled states, including Kentucky and Missouri, passed laws similar to the Indiana bill in 2020, and 12 states are considering such legislation this year.
University Amendment Stresses Cost
An amendment added to the Indiana bill distinguishes it from similar measures in other states, by restricting Indiana’s state-funded universities from adopting energy-saving mandates, including the barring of new natural gas hook-ups, when erecting new or renovating existing buildings, unless they can be expected to result in savings within 10 years.
The Indiana Builders Association and the state’s Chamber of Commerce are on record as favoring the legislation. They stress the importance of allowing consumer choice in making energy decisions.
For his part, Pressel believes his bill promotes both consumer choice and affordability.
“I think it’s very unfair to our constituents, any of them, to take away any source of energy that is currently, during the pandemic, the cheapest and most affordable way to heat your house,” Pressel said in a floor speech before the House of Representatives approved his bill. “So, do we want local units of government potentially, and I stress potentially, to take that away from [people] when things could be so bad for them now?”
Banning new natural gas uses is a really poor policy choice, says Craig Ladwig, director of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.
“This is another example of environmental insanity,” said Ladwig. “The arguments raised against this bill are based on emotion, lacking a scientific backing.
“The management of energy requires the ability to recognize the relative merits of different sources of energy and, with this bill, the Indiana Legislature is demonstrating that ability,” Ladwig said. “Our state has been blessed with inexpensive, clean coal resources and even cleaner natural gas resources, and to throw this advantage away without a careful cost benefit analysis would be political malfeasance.”
Leftist University administrators and faculty are fighting this bill out of fealty to ill-considered climate alarmism, says Jay Lehr, Ph.D., senior policy analyst for the International Climate Science Coalition
“Most universities in Indiana and in every other state are run by leftist administrators and faculty, who spend much of their time indoctrinating young, impressionable minds,” said Lehr. “Indiana shouldn’t even allow state-funded university to impose green restrictions on new buildings, because they will entail significant costs with absolutely no benefit.
“At least this bill requires universities to show any restrictions on natural gas, or mandates for the use of green building materials, will save a University money,” said Lehr.
Growing Role of Natural Gas
Natural gas is the second largest energy source in Indiana, behind coal. Most of the natural gas used in the state is used to power businesses, with about 16 percent going to homes. As more coal plants go offline, as they are expected to do under regulatory pressure from the Biden Administration, natural gas’ share of electric power generation is expected to grow.
HR 1191 easily passed the House and its sponsors indicated they is believed it would sail through the GOP-controlled Senate, after which it will be sent to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb for his expected signature.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., (email@example.com) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior policy analyst with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.