A state House bill aims to stop Indiana cities from banning gas stoves and other natural gas equipment in new homes and businesses. Cities in states like California, Ohio, and Massachusetts have passed such ordinances because of climate concerns.
Though natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal, producing it can leak methane into the air — which is an even more potent greenhouse gas. As utilities around the country rely more on renewable energy, electrifying homes and businesses could reduce that pollution.
Jesse Kharbanda is the executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. He said Indiana has a heritage of favoring local control, yet in the past few years lawmakers have continued to put forth bills that would take control away from cities.
“Hoosier lawmakers constantly protest that Washington D.C. shouldn't make decisions about what happens here in Indiana. It seems really hypocritical to us," Kharbanda said.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and other statewide issues.
But supporters of the bill – like Malika Butler, Indiana Manufacturers Association assistant vice president of governmental affairs – say natural gas provides cheap energy to homes and businesses in the state.
“Local policies that limit and reduce energy options could undermine Indiana’s economic competitiveness," Butler said.
Kharbanda argues that a city that has good environmental polices can attract talent and companies interested in sustainability.
Indiana joins at least five other states that have proposed similar legislation blocking bans on natural gas equipment in new construction. The author of the bill, Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), said so far no local government in Indiana has proposed such a ban.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.