A climate action coalition applauded New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's announcement Tuesday in support of legislation that would require all new construction in the state to be fossil fuel-free starting in 2024, following pressure from campaigners.
In her State of the State address, the Democratic governor endorsed the All-Electric Building Act (S. 562), which was also included in New York's executive budget last year and passed in the state Senate before being blocked in the Assembly.
Passing the bill into law this year is a "top priority" for advocates, said the Gas Free NY campaign, which includes Food & Water Watch, Earthjustice, NYPIRG, and other groups.
"The All-Electric Building Act will lower energy costs, create good-paying jobs, save lives, and help the state tackle the climate crisis."
"Gov. Hochul supports the critically necessary step of ending gas in new construction," said Gas Free NY in a statement. "The All-Electric Building Act will lower energy costs, create good-paying jobs, save lives, and help the state tackle the climate crisis. As the climate crisis accelerates and New Yorkers feel the pain of skyrocketing energy bills, the Assembly and Speaker [Carl] Heastie must work with the Senate and the governor to include this lifesaving bill in the SFY2023-24 budget and create a Gas Free NY."
New Yorkers are expected to pay an average of about $263 more for natural gas heat this winter than they did last year, National Grid said in November—a 39% increase.
The All-Electric Building Act would save residents of new homes nearly $1,000 on heating bills each year, according to a recent report by data science collective Win Climate.
As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, about half of American homes are heated with natural gas, which is a major source of planet-heating methane emissions.
"Each new building hooked to gas locks more families into overpaying to heat their homes, while padding the fossil fuel industry's profit, torching our state, and endangering New Yorkers," said the coalition.
Hochul is expected to include language officially calling for the passage of the All-Electric Building Act in the executive budget that is due this month.
State Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (D-50) noted that Hochul's endorsement followed a pledge by state Assembly Speaker Heastie (D-83) to "end our reliance on fossil fuels once and for all."
"I am hopeful that this is the year we win a Gas Free NY!" said Gallagher.
On Monday, progressive think tank Data for Progress released polling that showed two-thirds of New York residents support the All-Electric Building Act. The survey also showed that 55% of New Yorkers are "very concerned" about their energy bills this winter.
"Let's get this popular, money-saving climate policy done in the budget!" Gallagher said ahead of Hochul's announcement.