Texas moved to stop the city of Austin and others from imposing a California-style ban on natural gas in new homes and buildings, the latest salvo in the gas industry’s bid to protect itself from local climate regulations. The Texas House of Representatives advanced a bill Tuesday that would bar cities and towns from restricting natural gas hookups in new construction or utility services. The measure gained initial approval along with a series of bills designed to prevent a repeat of last month’s catastrophic blackouts that left millions in the dark for days and killed more than 100.
The move comes after Austin weighed a proposal to phase out use of the fossil fuel as part of the city’s climate plan. More than 40 cities in California including San Francisco have passed measures designed to end gas connections into homes amid concerns over the fuel’s contribution to global warming.
Democratic state representative Joe Deshotel, sponsor of the bill, said the legislation is needed to preserve “customer choice” for energy supplies.
Natural gas is used to heat about 35% of homes in Texas with electricity used for home heating for 61% of residences, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, most modern furnaces require electricity to function.
The bill requires a final vote in the Texas house before moving to the state Senate, which has expressed support for the gas industry.