It’s Friday, November 13, and the Golden Gate City is banning natural gas hookups in new buildings.

San Franciscans are taking a big step away from natural gas next year. Starting in June 2021, the city won’t allow any new buildings to use the fossil fuel for heating, hot water, and cooking appliances — they’ll have to use electric appliances instead.

The city had already passed a ban on natural gas for government buildings earlier this year, but the new rule applies more broadly, all but eliminating natural gas from new building projects within city limits (there will be some exceptions for restaurants). San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, the city’s legislative body, passed the ordinance unanimously on Tuesday, citing public health and environmental benefits. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who sponsored the legislation, called it a “critical step toward a safer, healthier San Francisco.”

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Indeed, appliances like stovetops running on natural gas can cause dangerous levels of indoor air pollution, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. And ditching gas-powered hookups will also help San Francisco achieve its ambitious climate goals. In 2017, natural gas was responsible for 80 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, and 36 percent of its overall emissions.

“San Francisco made an incremental but important move to help save our planet,” Mandelman tweeted. The Golden Gate City now joins at least 38 other California cities that have passed measures to restrict new natural gas hookups, including Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and San Jose.

Joseph Winters

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Emily Pontecorvo

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