Three bills recent­ly intro­duced to the Ohio leg­is­la­ture seek to stop local gov­ern­ments from lim­it­ing the use of cer­tain types of energy.

House Bill 201 and Sen­ate Bill 127 would pre­vent local gov­ern­ments from lim­it­ing the use of nat­ur­al gas.

The House ver­sion was intro­duced by Rep. Jason Stephens, R‑Kitts Hill. It was sent to the House Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources Com­mit­tee, which Stephens chairs, on March 16. The Sen­ate ver­sion, intro­duced by Sens. Michael Rul­li, R‑Salem, and George Lang, R‑West Chester, was sent to the com­mit­tee on March 17.

Issues elsewhere

Sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion has popped up in Indi­ana, Iowa, Kansas and oth­er states this year. Ten­nessee, Okla­homa, Ari­zona and Louisiana enact­ed laws in 2020 pro­hibit­ing bans on nat­ur­al gas.

It all stems from moves on the West Coast to pro­hib­it or lim­it the use of nat­ur­al gas in new buildings.

It start­ed in Berkley, Cal­i­for­nia. The city coun­cil there passed the nation’s first ban on nat­ur­al gas hookups in new build­ings in 2019. Since then dozens of oth­er cities, most­ly in Cal­i­for­nia, have passed sim­i­lar restric­tions. Most recent­ly, Seat­tle enact­ed leg­is­la­tion to ban nat­ur­al gas in new build­ings in ear­ly February.


While he hasn’t heard of any Ohio cities con­sid­er­ing such an action, Stephens told Farm and Dairy that he thought it best to address the issue before it became an issue.

Before becom­ing a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive in 2019, Stephens worked in local gov­ern­ment for 20 years. He’s seen how a vil­lage or city can make deci­sions seem­ing­ly on a whim.

If some­one does not want nat­ur­al gas com­ing to their house, “just take the meter out,” Stephens said. There’s no rea­son to elim­i­nate the choice for oth­ers who do want to use gas to heat their homes or pow­er their stoves.

It just made sense to me that if peo­ple have access to nat­ur­al gas, if they like it, they should con­tin­ue to have access to it with­out a gov­ern­ment at any lev­el say­ing they can’t,” Stephens told Farm and Dairy.

Other legislation

Anoth­er sim­i­lar piece of leg­is­la­tion, House Bill 192, would pro­hib­it local gov­ern­ments from pro­hibit­ing ener­gy gen­er­a­tion from fos­sil fuels. The bill would also pro­hib­it local gov­ern­ments from ban­ning the con­struc­tion or use of oil and gas pipelines.

Spon­sor Rep. Al Cutrona, R‑Canfield, said in a press release that the pur­pose of the bill is to pre­vent pos­si­ble rate increases.

Ohioans should not be penal­ized with increased rates if their local gov­ern­ment pass­es new restric­tions that so dras­ti­cal­ly impact util­i­ties’ ener­gy gen­er­a­tion prac­tices,” he said in the release.