Arizona Legislature Approves Proposal to Block Local Governments from Banning Natural Gas
Arizona passes legislation to keep individual cities from banning new natural gas hookups— it’s about time someone took measures into their own hands.
Republicans in both of Arizona’s legislative chambers passed legislation to prohibit local governments from passing their own bans on new natural gas hookups.
Such a proposal would cede more power from the towns and cities to the state while enforcing the protection of natural gas utilities and indirectly the exploration industry across the state.
Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, are supporting a proposal that would prevent the spread of gas bans that are similar to the those passed by cities in other states like Berkeley, Ca.
Republicans in both chambers presented companion bills that cleared last week with some Democratic support. The Senate voted 19-10 in favor with support of two Democrats, and the House passed the proposal with the support of 31 Republicans and five Democrats.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, is likely to sign and make law any formal bill blocking local governments from banning the use of new natural gas as a utility option.
“If a municipality shuts down natural gas or electric or anything, that affects all the ratepayers in the state, not just the municipality,” Fann said in a statement. “Can you imagine if all cities had different regulations on one form of energy or another form of energy? Businesses would not relocate to Arizona.”
While consumer interest in the bill is split, most of the state’s Chambers of Commerce and a variety of other business groups support the proposal. Though a local government advocacy group has gone indifferent on the bill, local governments who sell and generate their own electricity to residential ratepayers will benefit from the legislation.
Pima County along with the cities of Phoenix and Tucson have joined a chorus of environmental and climate action groups opposing the bills. Democrats say that the use or preemption to block the decision-making power of cities could be catastrophic in the long run.
Democratic state Rep. Kirsten Engel, who represents a portion of Pima County, believes that the ban could potentially block local utilities to expand fossil fuels or to shift to cleaner power generating schemes that could help mobilize a climate action response for the local communities.
“This seems to be entirely the gas companies saying we’re going to protect our turf in the future from some hypothetical thing — the Berkeley-ization of Arizona — which I think there is not much of a realistic possibility will happen,” Engel said, referring to a similar ban passed in Berkeley, Ca.