PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Earlier this week, Eugene became the first city in Oregon to ban the use of natural gas as a fuel in new homes. Now, Milwaukie is looking to follow in the town’s footsteps.
The Milwaukie city council approved two resolutions in December to move in that direction as well, it just won’t happen this year.
The new mayor of Milwaukie was a Milwaukie city councilor when she voted in December to ban natural gas hookups in new construction and phase out natural gas in city-owned buildings. She’s concerned about the possible health effects of methane gas, the main component of natural gas.
“For me, the health effects are now just as important as the climate effects. I am actually looking at taking my gas stove out and replacing it with an induction stove,” said Milwaukie Mayor Lisa Batey.
She says the city has a utility agreement with Northwest Natural until Feb. of 2024 so a ban couldn’t happen until then.
But the Eugene City Council approved a ban on natural gas for new home construction and decided not to give the public a chance to vote on it. The ban passed 5-3 and goes into effect in July.
Eugene’s mayor knows it’s a bold move and some council members worry about fallout.
“We have a governor that has pledged to build 36,000 houses new houses a year. We do not want those houses with natural gas hookups in them. We can lead the way in the city of Eugene to say ‘This is how it’s done,'” Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis.
“If we put this ban in place for our summer. I fully expect to see many houses built in Springfield and Creswell and Harrisburg and Junction City. But none in Eugene,” added Eugene City Councilor Mike Clark.
NW Natural Gas expressed displeasure with the decision in Eugene.
“By being unwilling to put this issue out for a public vote, the council also ignored the thousands of residents, workers and community leaders that registered their opposition in writing and in public comment,” NW Natural Sr. Director of Communications David Roy said. “The climate benefit the city has published to support this ban is one-tenth of one percent of an emissions reduction benefit in 2037. In response to the council’s actions, NW Natural will work with community members and partners to evaluate next steps.”
There could still be a public vote on this if enough signatures are gathered for an initiative petition on the November ballot once the ban goes into effect.
Nearly 100 cities around the country have approved natural gas bans.