A federal appellate court ruled Tuesday that it would not reconsider an earlier decision that prevents the city of Berkeley, California, from enforcing its de facto ban on installing gas-powered appliances in new buildings.
Berkeley, one of the most liberal cities in America, enacted the policy in 2019, marketing it as a means of countering climate change while others railed against it as a de facto gas stove ban. The California Restaurant Association sued the city over the ordinance, losing its challenge in federal court initially before a three-judge panel vindicated the trade group in April 2023, a decision the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opted against revisiting on Tuesday.
“By completely prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping within newly constructed buildings, the City of Berkeley has waded into a domain preempted by Congress,” Patrick Bumatay, a circuit judge on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and member of the panel, wrote in his opinion. “The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), 42 U.S.C. § 6297(c), expressly preempts State and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens. Instead of directly banning those appliances in new buildings, Berkeley took a more circuitous route to the same result.”
Notably, the Biden administration made a direct appeal to the Ninth Circuit to reinstate the ban in June 2023, calling the decision to toss the ban “erroneous.” A month prior to issuing that brief, the Department of Energy asserted that it is “misinformation” and a “myth” that “the federal government wants to ban gas stoves.”
The issue of gas stove bans has proven contentious, as Consumer Product Safety Commission Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr. said in January 2023 that “any option is on the table” and “products that can’t be made safe can be banned” in reference to gas stoves, according to Bloomberg News. Those comments and subsequent actions from the Biden administration targeting gas stoves and other gas-powered appliances spurred considerable pushback from elected Republicans; the House passed a bill in June by a bipartisan vote that would prohibit a federal ban on gas stoves.
The administration has also committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help municipal and state governments craft “building electrification” codes, a move which several energy policy experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation amounts to a de facto backdoor attempt to ban gas-powered appliances in a way that is less politically toxic than doing so via federal action.
Neither the city of Berkeley nor the White House responded immediately to requests for comment.