A federal appeals court on Monday struck down Berkeley’s first-in-the-nation ordinance banning natural gas hookups in new buildings, ruling that it conflicted with federal law.
In its decision (PDF), a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the California Restaurant Association, a powerful industry group that had sued the city. The CRA had argued the ordinance banning natural gas piping also effectively banned natural gas products, in violation of a nearly 50-year-old U.S. energy law that, among many other things, authorizes federal officials to set national efficiency standards.
The 9th Circuit sided with the CRA in finding that the federal law preempts Berkeley’s ordinance.
“In sum, Berkeley can’t bypass preemption by banning natural gas piping within buildings rather than banning natural gas products themselves,” the panel wrote in its 3–0 ruling.
“Congress ensured that States and localities could not prevent consumers from using … products [covered under federal law] in their homes, kitchens, and businesses.”