HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Citing the need to address climate change, Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday vetoed Republican-drafted legislation to prevent municipalities from passing building codes banning natural gas connections.
Wolf, in a veto message to lawmakers, said the legislation takes away “local decision-making” from municipalities seeking to address climate change and impinges on the authority of state utility regulators.
The legislation passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate largely along party lineswith a handful of Democrats alongside almost all Republicans.
Republican lawmakers had framed the legislation as protecting consumer energy choices, but also to protect the state’s natural gas industry. It would have prohibited municipalities from writing new building codes that restricted utilities based on energy source. Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the country, behind Texas.
States, cities and counties elsewhere have begun to review all-electric building codes that exclude gas infrastructure as a way to accelerate progress toward a carbon-free power grid.
In December, New York City banned most new construction projects submitted for approval as early as 2024 from using natural gas or fuel oil for heating, hot water and cooking.
Burning natural gas emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that warms the planet. Natural gas also contains methane, which is much more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.