City of Oakland

Oakland City Council’s Natural Gas Ban Would Be More Gentrification As Costs Go Up

The Oakland City Council’s set to consider legislation by District One Councilmember Dan Kalb District Two Nikki Fortunado Bas, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings. But they’re doing so without any concern for how their legislation will impact your ability to live in Oakland in the future. Read on, please.

From the news ran here at Oakland News Now, the idea goes like this:

Today, Oakland City Council will consider groundbreaking legislation to improve building safety and reduce Oakland’s greenhouse gas emissions by prohibiting the use of fossil fuel gas in all newly constructed buildings. While building electrification – powering all energy systems like cooking and heating with electricity – is becoming widespread throughout the state, the legislation introduced by Councilmember Dan Kalb, Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Nikki Bas represents one of the most comprehensive policies introduced in California thus far.

Unlike electricity, natural gas burned within homes and buildings cannot be made clean. Natural gas, which is primarily methane, creates greenhouse gas emissions when it is burned, and even more when it leaks throughout the gas distribution system. These leaks have severe climate impacts because methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, more than 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide in its potential to trap heat in the atmosphere.

“Oakland cannot meet its climate goals without shifting quickly away from natural gas use and my legislation will put Oakland at the forefront of efforts statewide,” said Councilmember Kalb, lead author of the legislation. “State energy policies and lower prices of renewables mean that substituting natural gas with electricity is one of the quickest, safest, and least expensive pathways to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Additionally, reducing the reliance on gas systems will reduce the risk of fires, simplify building systems and maintenance, and improve indoor air quality.”

Once approved, the legislation will require all residential and commercial building developers to submit building applications that will design and build without any natural gas infrastructure. The ordinance does not impact existing buildings, additions, or alterations, or attached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and waivers may be granted for technology feasibility reasons.

But Then Councilmember Kalb and Mayor Schaaf Play Games With Energy Cost Numbers, Avoiding Fact That Natural Gas Is Less Expensive Than Electric

In the same press release, Kalb and Schaaf state this:

In 2019, costs for all-electric new construction were already either on par with or less than those for mixed-fuel (i.e. electricity plus natural gas) construction. A recent analysis by California’s Statewide Utility Codes and Standards Team found that building all-electric ​reduced construction costs on average $5,000 for single-family homes and over $2,000 per unit in a multi-family building.

Note the entire paragraph fails to mention that the cost reduction is only for construction. That means better profit-margins for developers. But for the dweller? Forget it. By leaving out the fact that electricity is more expensive to pay for than natural gas, Schaaf and Kalb have admitted they don’t at all care about the poor or middle class Oakland residents now or in the future.

The fact is that natural gas is much cheaper for Oakland residents. Look at this comparison from Washington Gas:

Estimated Annual Operating Costs For An Average Furnace. Comparison Based On Chart Here
Natural Gas – $574
Residential Heating Oil – $1,238
Propane – $1,912
All Electric Furnace/Resistance Heat $1,965
Electric – Standard Efficiency Heat Pump, 8.7 HSPF $838

So, we have to ask Kalb and Schaaf and Bas, what the hell are they doing? And then say, don’t bother explaining, just stop doing it. They show zero concern for those who have nothing. There’s no plan to help by offering incentives for home-owners and renters. No evidence of concern for the living costs of poor residents. It’s all made to present the idea that we must be concerned with their view (not a real view) of climate change. They leave no room for another consideration. And they’re not scientists.

We’re In The Middle Of A Pandemic, Businesses Are Suffering, And Yet The Oakland City Council Considers Something Having Nothing To Do With Immediate Problems

News Flash to Kalb, Schaaf, and Bas, many of your constituents are in trouble. That includes some who were on your Economic Council, Libby! Government must pay people to weather the storm of COVID-19-related business closure. You’re hurting people with all of this rampant banning and prohibiting stuff. Knock it off!

Knock off this crap, focus on getting monetary help to the businesses and people who need it, and nothing else.

That’s job number one. Get to work. Job number two is to stay safe.

Stay tuned.

PS: This is also not related to any Zennie62Media client engagement. This is the result of my complete disgust with an Oakland Government that ignores the direct and immediate needs of Oaklanders impacted by COVID-19. That includes the many owners of iconic restaurants and businesses who have been damaged by forced closure without monetary compensation. That has a powerful ripple effect on the lives of thousands of Oaklanders. This is the time for government to meet the moment: the needs of the people, now.

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