Ninth Circuit Spikes Berkeley's Gas Ban


Three federal court judges just rescued your gas stove and other gas-fired appliances from the nanny state.

Yesterday, in a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the nation’s first ban on natural gas, put in place by the City of Berkeley in 2019, violates federal law. The three judges found that the city’s ordinance was preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which prohibits the implementation of regulations that favor one type of fuel over another.

The first report I saw on the court’s ruling was here on Substack by my friend, Ed Ireland. There’s no doubt that the decision is a huge win for consumers, businesses, and energy security. Indeed, the ruling in California Restaurant Association vs. City of Berkeley, has ramifications that go beyond California and the Ninth Circuit. It should invalidate the dozens of gas bans that have been enacted across the country over the past four years. It may also mean that plans by federal authorities, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to ban, or restrict, the use of gas stoves, gas furnaces, and other gas-fired appliances, are kaput.

About 47 million American homes have gas stoves and lots of chefs, and consumers, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, like cooking with gas. The Department of Energy’s own numbers show that heating homes with gas is far cheaper than heating with electricity. Despite these facts, a group of lavishly funded activist groups have been pushing electrify everything mandates that would prohibit the use of gas in homes and businesses and require consumers to rely almost exclusively (including energy for electric vehicles) on our already-shaky electric grid. The electrify everything claque got a boost in January after Richard Trumka Jr., who sits on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told a Bloomberg reporter that gas stoves are a hazard and that “any option is on the table,” including, presumably, a ban.

Trumka’s comments sparked a storm of criticism. Within hours, the White House issued a statement saying that President Joe Biden doesn’t support a ban on gas stoves.

What has since been dubbed the “gas stove culture war” was ignited in July 2019, when Berkeley became the first municipality in the country to ban the use of gas. Since then, as I explained in January, (See: “The Billionaires Behind The Gas Bans”), several NGOs, including Climate Imperative, the Sierra Club, and Rocky Mountain Institute, as well as Rewiring America, have spent untold (and undisclosed) millions of dollars campaigning and lobbying at the local and national levels to ban the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses. And thanks to remarkably friendly (and largely unquestioning) coverage from legacy media outlets, they’ve had undeniable success.

Read the rest of this piece at Robert Bryce Substack.

Robert Bryce is a Texas-based author, journalist, film producer, and podcaster. His articles have appeared in a myriad of publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Time, Austin Chronicle, and Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo: Fried rice being prepared over a gas flame, Tokyo, March 4, 2023. Photo by author.