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Eugene becomes first city in Oregon to restrict natural gas in new residential construction

A lower-carbon natural gas flame burns on a stovetop at a NW Natural testing facility.
Cassandra Profita
/
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A lower-carbon natural gas flame burns on a stovetop at a NW Natural testing facility.

Natural gas infrastructure will be banned in new low-rise residential buildings in Eugene.

The City Council passed the surprise resolution 5-3 Monday night, during a discussion on whether to send the issue to the ballot.

Developers will have to use electric appliances and power when building new residences of three stories or less. The ordinance applies to building permits submitted on or after June 30, and it does not affect existing buildings.

Eugene will be the first city in Oregon with this policy.

Councilors in favor said this would reduce carbon emissions and eliminate the air quality hazards of gas stoves.

"We have a governor who has pledged to build 36,000 new houses a year," said Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis. "We do not want those houses with natural gas hookups. And we can lead the way in the city of Eugene to say this is how it's done."

Councilor Mike Clark said the change will discourage developers. He also expressed concerns that the lack of a community-wide vote would anger the public.

New buildings compose a small percentage of Eugene’s carbon emissions, according to a 2021 report from the Good Company. Representatives told the City Council in July 2022 that refitting existing buildings would have a greater impact on emissions.

Councilor Jennifer Yeh said Monday’s resolution is just a first step.

“It's going to be slow, and it's going to take us decades, but we have to start moving and this is that movement.”

Copyright 2023 KLCC. To see more, visit KLCC.

Nathan Wilk