Federal Law Preempts Berkeley’s Natural Gas Pipeline Ban
Whether you are a James Beard Award-winning chef or a self-taught home cook dreaming of that shiny new gas stove, you can rest somewhat easier. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (ECPA), 42 U.S.C. § 6297(c) preempts the City of Berkeley, California’s 2019 regulation prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping in new buildings.
On April 17, 2023, the court of appeals issued an opinion in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, No. 21-16278, reversing a lower court decision and finding that ECPA “expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens.” Berkeley’s ordinance, similar to those proposed elsewhere, did not ban gas appliances.
Instead, the city prohibited installation of natural gas piping extending from the local distribution company’s facilities into new buildings, making the use of gas appliances in such buildings impossible. Prohibition