Natural gas infrastructure will be banned in new low-rise residential buildings in Eugene.
City Council passed the surprise resolution 5-3 Monday night, during a discussion on whether to send the issue to the ballot.
Developers will have to use electric appliances and power when building new residences of three stories or less. The ordinance applies to building permits submitted on or after June 30, and it does not affect existing buildings.
Eugene will be the first city in Oregon with this policy.
Councilors in favor said this would reduce carbon emissions and eliminate the air quality hazards of gas stoves.
“We have a governor who has pledged to build 36,000 new houses a year,” said Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis. “We do not want those houses with natural gas hookups. And we can lead the way in the city of Eugene to say this is how it’s done.”
Councilor Mike Clark said the change will discourage developers. He also expressed concerns that the lack of a community-wide vote would anger the public.
New buildings compose a small percentage of Eugene’s carbon emissions, according to a 2021 report from the Good Company. Representatives told the City Council in July 2022 that refitting existing buildings would have a greater impact on emissions.
Councilor Jennifer Yeh said Monday’s resolution is just a first step.
“It’s going to be slow, and it’s going to take us decades, but we have to start moving and this is that movement.”
Listen below to a conversation about the new policy with Dylan Plummer, an organizer with the community action group Fossil Free Eugene, and NPR reporter Jeff Brady, who covers the natural gas industry as part of his beat on the climate desk, that aired Tuesday on “Think Out Loud.”