Berkeley considers ban on natural gas in new construction

Berkeley is considering a ban on natural gas in new construction.

If passed, the ban would be the first of its kind in the country. Supporters say electricity is more environmentally friendly. But the ban isn't embraced by everyone. 

Chef Phil Simms at Spats in Berkeley knows his way around a kitchen.

He says he's been cooking professionally for 13 years and uses all natural gas powered appliances. 
"You can pretty much get the temperature better with gas...been using gas for so long.  Why would you change it," says Simms. 

But change is being proposed by Berkeley city council member Kate Harrison.  She has introduced an ordinance that would prohibit the use of natural gas in new buildings: residential and commercial. 

"When you burn carbons, it's not just going into the atmosphere and creates greenhouse gases. It also affects people's health in terms of children with asthma.  It has a severe health impact," says Harrison. 

The proposed ban would start with new low-rise residential buildings and expand to all new buildings over time.  Harrison says this measure would lay the groundwork for Berkeley to comply with a state law that says 40 percent of new buildings would need to be in compliance by 2030. 
"We're just getting a little ahead of the curve so we ensure the new buildings which will last for 100 years already meet that standard," says Harrison.  

Supporters passed out signs at Tuesday night's city council meeting in advance of a possible vote next week. They say indoor pollution is caused by natural gas.  

"How rapidly our climate is change and our eco system is collapsing. We have to make this change," says Kelly Hammargren who supports the proposed ban on natural gas. . 
But Simms  says a ban is unnecessary. 

"You know, if it's not broken, don't fix it," says Simms. 

The Berkeley city council is scheduled to discuss the ban and may vote on it July 16. 
If passed, the ban would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.