Gas Stoves Live On! Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: City of Berkeley Cannot Ban Natural Gas

Sacramento, CA…The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously that the City of Berkeley’s ban on natural gas in buildings violates federal law, specifically the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The City of Berkeley cannot bypass federal preemption by banning the pipes instead of natural gas products themselves, according to the panel.

In response, the California Restaurant Association released the following statement:

“The Ninth Circuit has unanimously affirmed the central issue in this case: local ordinances cannot override federal law,” said California Restaurant Association President and CEO Jot Condie. “Cities and states are not equipped to regulate the energy use or energy efficiency of appliances that businesses and homeowners have chosen; energy policy and conservation is an issue with national scope and national security implications. This ordinance, as well as the solution it seeks, is an overreaching measure beyond the scope of any city.

“Natural gas appliances are crucial for restaurants to operate effectively and efficiently, as they allow for a wide variety of cuisines and innovations in the restaurant industry. Cities and states cannot ignore federal law in an effort to constrain consumer choice, and it is encouraging that the Ninth Circuit upheld this standard.”

In addition to ruling that federal law pre-empts the City of Berkeley’s natural gas ban, the Ninth Circuit found that the CRA had standing to bring its claim. The panel ordered that the District Court, on remand, reinstate the City of Berkeley’s state law claims.

The CRA is represented by Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg (RJLF.) In response to the Ninth Circuit decision, RJLF Partner Sarah O. Jorgensen released the following statement:

“The Ninth Circuit’s ruling today underscores the importance of a consistent national energy policy, which was Congress’ intent the whole time. Cities and states should not be permitted to overrule energy decisions that affect the country as a whole. The panel’s unanimous decision that Berkeley’s ban on natural gas piping is preempted by EPCA sets an important precedent for future cases, especially with other cities considering similar bans or restrictions on the use of natural gas.”