Brookline is the first Massachusetts community to outlaw natural gas and heating oil pipes in new buildings after residents voted overwhelmingly for the bylaw Wednesday, a ban — slammed by the fossil fuel industry — that could end up in court.
Town Meeting members voted 211-3 to pass the bylaw “Prohibition on New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Major Construction.”
The ban, for both new construction and major rehab projects, will help curb climate change and is a model for area cities and towns, said supporters who rallied around a “Gas is the Past” sign.
“Elsewhere they’re saying, ‘Hey, Brookline set the bar. Let’s follow suit,’ ” Select Board Member Raul Fernandez said.
“It’s not just about what happens in Brookline. It’s about the impact to the entire region,” he added.
The ban requires new buildings and major rehabs to go all electric.
“We understand we need solutions to match the significance of this (climate change) problem,” Fernandez said.
Select Board Member Heather Hamilton added, “In the end, this moves us away from a future that is reliant on fossil fuels.”
When asked if a lawsuit could be coming to challenge the ban, she responded, “Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Fernandez added, “Our community is ready to fight for this.”
The head of the Northeast Gas Association called Brookline’s vote “disappointing,” noting that it will result in higher prices.
“It’s really eliminating customer choice, and prevents residents and business owners from taking advantage of affordable natural gas,” Thomas Kiley said. “There’s a significant and real economic impact as a result of this decision.”
The Northeast Gas Association at this time doesn’t plan to sue Brookline over this, but Kiley said other groups may take legal action.
National Grid services Brookline. In response to the town’s ban, a spokesman said in a statement that the company is “so committed to, and already taking actions to, mitigate climate change.”
“But we also believe that the gas network has an enduring role to play in bringing about a clean energy future, and that customers should have the ability to choose their energy source,” he added. “We have been looking at new technologies to decarbonize our gas network in tandem with the electric network, which currently relies on dirtier power generation resources like coal and oil during periods of peak demand.
“Notwithstanding our disappointment over the passing of Article 21, we’ll continue to collaborate with our stakeholders on the best ways to reach our shared decarbonization goals,” the spokesman said.
Article courtesy: Boston Herald