Terra Verde

Legal Roadblock to Berkeley’s Building Electrification Law – April 28, 2023

Person cooking on an induction stovetop. Only torso and hands are visible
The Berkeley law is intended to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and health concerns related to gas stoves. Photo courtesy of PLE BORA/Wikimedia commons.

On April 17, a federal court in San Francisco struck down the City of Berkeley’s first-of-its-kind law banning natural gas infrastructure from new buildings. The ruling can have implications beyond Berkeley, especially since more than seventy local and state jurisdictions around the country have followed Berkeley’s lead in requiring or strongly incentivizing all-electric new buildings, and many more are considering similar approaches. So just how big of a setback is this court ruling, really? What other avenues are open to cities and towns that would like to pass decarbonization ordinances? To find out, Terra Verde host and Earth Island Journal editor, Maureen Nandini Mitra, talks with two climate lawyers  — Nihal Srinath, an associate attorney with Sierra Club, who focuses on combating climate change and pollution by transitioning California away from fossil fuels, and Matt Vespa, a senior attorney with Earthjustice, who also works to dismantle the fossil fuel industry by rapidly decarbonizing California.