Community Advocates Speak out on Natural Gas Ban

Ilene Eng
By Ilene Eng
July 28, 2019USshare

BERKELEY, Calif.—After Berkeley first proposed a ban on natural gas, other cities are taking steps to be more green, too.

But some industry and community advocates are speaking out against such bans. Daniel Turner, founder and executive director of the 501C4 Power the Future, said the proposal to prohibit natural gas was strange.

“What is the goal? Is it for the environment? Is it for the consumers? I would say the consumers are the ones who are going to struggle the most with utility costs in California, three and four times the price,” said Turner.

Jon Switalski, executive director of Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, is also against the idea. He said that under such a ban, homeowners and businesses would suffer.

“Imagine going to Home Depot to replace your gas stove, and there isn’t one there,” said Switalski. “You are forced to buy an electric stove at a significantly higher price. You now have to rewire your home so that the electricity can support a stove and then you are stuck with increased energy bills.”

It’s possible to run stoves and ovens on electricity. However, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas is also used in steam turbines and gas turbines to generate electricity.

“So you’re just displacing the emissions, rather than having a burner on your stove, that you turn on with your flame, and you’re saying well this is releasing an emission, we don’t like that. Here’s an electric one. Ok, well that stove that was plugged in to the electric grid, that’s running on natural gas. So you’re not changing the burning of natural gas, you’re just relocating where the actual burning happens,” said Turner.

In addition, he said, energy alternatives like wind turbines need coal and natural gas to manufacture them in the first place.

He said this ban would only make it harder for people to subsist and that relying on expensive energy would drive up the cost of many other goods and services.

“It’s amazing to think that you’re eating a fruit—at least for me in DC—that was grown thousands of miles away, and it’s only 90 cents. And that is only possible because energy is really inexpensive,” said Turner.

He made it clear that he and his organization are not against wind and solar, but said these technologies should be applied in areas with abundant wind or sunshine.

Turner said there is no perfect energy solution because we don’t have the technology now; and that it is not feasible for everyone to suddenly change their current lifestyle.

But he is optimistic, and said there are people out there working on finding better energy alternatives.