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Hot Topics: NC Chamber Political Director on Gas Utility Bans and Why Business Cares

| Energy

by Kirk O’Steen, NC Chamber Political Director

Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly sent House Bill 130 to Governor Cooper’s desk for final passage into law. The bill prohibits local governments from outlawing natural gas utilities for businesses and residential homes.

Gas utilities have become a politically charged topic in the last few months after a federal agency suggested banning any new gas stoves because of safety concerns. Republicans have passionately defended their use of gas ranges, while many Democrats argue that no one was trying to get rid of the gas utilities.

In May, New York became the first state to ban gas stoves in new buildings. New York isn’t the only one cracking down on gas utilities. Berkley, California passed a similar ban on gas ranges in 2019 before it was struck down in the 9th Circuit Court. Seattle, Washington outlawed the use of natural gas heating systems back in 2021.

House Bill 130 provides certainty and flexibility for North Carolinians to choose whichever energy source works best for them. With the Mountain Valley Pipeline project back on track, existing gas pipelines in North Carolina will be able to increase capacity and natural gas access will reach new areas in the coming years. This will be a huge win for North Carolina businesses, particularly in rural areas.

The NC Chamber is supportive of this bill that would protect job creators from the harmful and costly energy choice mandates we have begun to see in other states. We will be covering this bill in our annual How They Voted publication and votes taken on the bill will be scored in our Jobs Champion vote calculations.

Interestingly, during House Bill 130’s latest vote in the North Carolina Senate, some of the “No” votes were made by Senators who represent some of the highest concentrations of gas utility users in the state. The maps below show the “Aye” votes colored in green, “No” votes in red, and Senators not voting in grey.

Source: Maptitude 2023
Source: Maptitude 2023

The NC Chamber will continue advocating for our state’s businesses and ensure we have access to quality energy choices for years to come.