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REBNY Says City's Proposed Gas Ban Moves Too Fast

Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press availability Feb. 10, 2021

At least two dozen elected officials, including outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, have backed a bill that would ban gas-fueled appliances at New York City buildings, but the real estate industry's powerful lobbying group said the proposal is too much, too soon. 

Int. 2317, first introduced in May and sponsored by 24 New York City Council members, would bar any newly constructed building or any building undergoing major renovations from using natural gas starting in two years. A de Blasio climate official threw his support behind the bill this week, but didn't back its current time frame, The Real Deal reports

In testimony at the council's Committee on Environmental Protection this week, Real Estate Board of New York officials argued that, while emission reduction in buildings is essential to mitigating the effects of climate change, the bill’s current timeline and breadth are not attainable.

REBNY argued that it will take more time for the city to prepare for such a vast expansion of its electric system and to transfer to alternative energy sources at a speed that would not impede development of needed new housing.

In testimony, REBNY Senior Vice President of Policy Zach Steinberg offered an alternative timeline and scope for the implementation of the bill’s objectives based on the size of the buildings: 2025 for buildings three stories and shorter, 2027 for buildings up to 10 stories tall and 2030 for all buildings taller than 10 stories. The trade organization also argued that the bill should focus on new construction, claiming it would have a greater chance of success if it did so. 

“Such a phase-in has numerous advantages,” Steinberg said. “First, in requiring smaller buildings to go first it reflects the reality that heat pump technology is already cost-competitive and proven in small buildings … Second, it would align this mandate with other aspects of State and City policy, [such as Local Law 97] that are important.” 

Advocates of the bill took issue with REBNY's arguments, dismissing them as moving too slowly to respond to the climate crisis, TRD reported

“New York City faces an existential threat, and there is no time to delay,” Peter Sikora of New York Communities of Change said in response to the testimony, according to TRD.