PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Eugene just became the first city in Oregon to pass an ordinance banning gas hookups in new homes. The policy will eliminate fossil fuel infrastructure in Eugene’s new, low-rise residential buildings that are three stories and below.
The ban was passed at a special Eugene City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 6.
During the meeting, councilors decided on whether all Eugeneans would have the opportunity to participate in an official public vote on the ordinance. Five of the eight councilors opposed a public vote.
In the City Council’s following decision, the ordinance to prohibit fossil fuel infrastructure in new buildings passed 5-3 — notwithstanding conflicting opinions from Eugene residents.
Eugene City Council previously held two public hearings on the ordinance in November and December of 2022, in which locals had mixed reviews. According to data from an NW Natural and DHM Research poll, 70% of Eugene residents opposed the policy while 53% strongly opposed it. Just 23% of voters were in support of the ban.
Despite the statistics, environmental organization Sierra Club reported that Eugene is the 97th city in the U.S. to pass the ordinance. The ordinance will reduce pollution, boost air quality and ease the cost of utility bills, Sierra Club says.
The Eugene ban will go into effect for building permits submitted on or after June 30, 2023.
NW Natural said that the policy won’t change things for its pre-existing customers, but the gas company does disagree with the Eugene City Council’s latest decision.
“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.”