Eugene bans natural gas in new house construction

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By DON McINTOSH

In a 5-3 vote, Eugene City Council approved an ordinance Feb. 6 that bans natural gas or fuel oil in new residential construction in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ordinance applies to any residential structure of three stories or less, starting with building permit applications submitted after June 30. The ordinance was also supported by Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis.

The vote came after two years of discussion on the city council. At packed hearings in November and December, city council heard from 136 people in all: 79 in favor of the ordinance and 57 against. Building trades union officials were among those testifying against the ordinance, including Jeff McGillivray of UA Local 290, Nate Stokes and Peter Ullrey of Operating Engineers Local 701. The city council also received thousands of emails and letters.

Just over 100 local jurisdictions in 11 states have passed similar ordinances—including Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bellingham, and Shoreline Washington—but Eugene becomes the first city in Oregon to do so.

Opponents of the Eugene ordinance could decide to collect signatures to refer it to voters. Meanwhile, the Eugene council will reportedly consider future ordinances to prohibit fossil fuels in new commercial and industrial buildings.

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