The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned Berkeley’s ban on natural gas in new construction, which could have national repercussions as other cities consider phasing out natural gas stoves, furnaces, and water heaters.

The possibility of stricter regulations on the use of gas stoves has spawned a right-wing culture war, with the Wall Street Journal running the overcooked headline that “Biden Is Coming for Your Gas Stove.” The reality is that the Biden Administration has not formally proposed any new regulations of gas appliances, but some cities are considering banning natural gas appliance lines on new construction projects. And here in the Bay Area, the city of Berkeley was the first in the nation to ban natural gas infrastructure on new construction, a ruling that went into effect in January 2020.

But that ruling is no longer in effect, for now at least, as the Associated Press reports that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Berkeley’s natural gas ban. Judge Patrick Bumatay wrote in the 3-0 ruling that a local ban “impacts the quantity of energy” businesses and households use, which they feel is more in the purview of the federal government.

The lawsuit was brought by the California Restaurant Association, who hailed the decision. “Cities and states are not equipped to regulate the energy use or energy efficiency of appliances that businesses and homeowners have chosen; energy policy and conservation is an issue with national scope and national security implications," that organization's president Jot Condie said in a statement.

The decision will almost surely be appealed to the Supreme Court, but may affect other cities' drives toward electrification and away from fossil fuel use.

“As we face a climate and air quality crisis from coast to coast, it is vital that cities and states maintain all legal pathways to protect public health, cut climate emissions, and increase safety by addressing pollution from buildings, and we’ll continue to fight to ensure this authority is preserved,” Earthjustice senior attorney Matt Vespa said in a statement to the AP.

But this appeal could cool other cities’ attempts to move away from natural gas. New York City approved a similar ban in 2021, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District passed a ban that only applies to water heaters and furnaces last month, and 74 California cities have adopted building codes that discourage natural gas use. Opponents may seize on this ruling to overturn those various pieces of legislation.

Related: Supes To Consider Banning Natural Gas From City Buildings [SFist]

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