Ohio may soon join a dozen U.S. states to have enacted legislation to preemptively block cities and counties from banning natural gas as a source of heating or cooking in new homes.
A committee at the Ohio Senate was expected to vote on Tuesday on such legislation, Ohio Capital-Journal reported. The so-called House Bill 201, if it makes the committee vote on Tuesday, could be headed for a full vote at the Senate as early as this week.
Ohio House passed the bill last month with 65 votes in favor and 32 against, with all Republicans and two Democrats supporting it.
If the bill becomes law, it would preemptively block cities and counties in the state of Ohio from enacting a zoning or other law that “limits, prohibits, or prevents” customers, including households and businesses, from having a natural gas or propane service.
Proponents and supporters of the Ohio bill say that it keeps the right of the people and businesses to choose their choices of energy, while bans on natural gas would force them to choose more costly appliances.
Opponents of the bill, for their part, argue that such preemptive legislation cares for the need of the fossil fuel industry.
“It’s clearly not a piece of legislation about what’s best for Ohio,” Dan Sawmiller, Ohio energy policy director at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told Ohio Capital Journal in an interview.
“It’s about what’s best for the fossil fuel industry,” Sawmiller added.
Since the city of Berkeley in California enacted in 2019 the first city-wide ban on new natural gas hookups in residential buildings, other major cities have followed. Some states, however, are not having it and have either introduced or already enacted into law preemption bills to prevent cities from natural gas bans.
According to NRDC, as of June 1, preemption bills were introduced in 19 states this year, 14 of which have been enacted into law or awaiting final signature from the state’s governor. The 19 states are Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.