Chicago, a City in Crisis, Looks, in the Name of Climate Change, To Ban Natural Gas in New Housing Developments

Utility providers are warning that the ban could double consumers’ utility costs.

Andrea Piacquadio via
Climate change activists are pressuring regulators to ban gas-powered stoves from American homes. Andrea Piacquadio via

As Chicago is overwhelmed by lawsuits for its handling of the migrant crisis, violent crime spikes, and homelessness,  its mayor is turning his attention to a new goal: banning gas stoves. 

The Windy City has reached a breaking point in recent months, as the Sun has reported, as residents have grown increasingly frustrated with an influx of migrants, crime, and homelessness, even inspiring some lifelong Democrats to call for new Republican leadership in the city.

Despite all these issues, Chicago’s city council is forging ahead with plans to consider emissions standards that would effectively ban natural gas in new developments in an effort to combat climate change. Some are warning that the proposals will hurt residents and businesses in an already struggling city. 

“Chicago is in the midst of a housing shortage and homelessness crisis. We are already lagging behind on affordable housing developments, this added burden will drive up costs on these projects — costs that will either be passed down to consumers in the form of higher rents, or subsidized with our tax dollars,” a director of fiscal and economic research at the Illinois Policy Institute, Bryce Hill, tells the Sun. 

The proposal, if enacted, would punish developers who are looking to build, as well as Chicago consumers, who already pay some of the highest utility costs in the country. 

“Some utility providers are warning that the ban could double consumers’ utility costs, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the average American household would spend 76 percent more to heat their home with electricity rather than natural gas this heating season,” he notes, adding that “this policy would only exacerbate the issue.”

Additionally, banning natural gas in a city as cold as Chicago comes with challenges not faced in warmer climates. 

“Chicagoans live at the mercy of the weather, and weather-related deaths due to cold exposure are a reality in the city,” he says. “More expensive heating costs could potentially exacerbate these risks while the ban could put further strain on the city’s electrical infrastructure.”

The city recently witnessed a major electric power outage affecting more than 150,000 residents, Mr. Hill adds. “We don’t know how adding new developments will impact the grid longterm,” he notes. “The last thing the city needs is to leave residents without heat or electricity during a frigid cold front.”

A sponsor of the measure, Alderwoman Maria Hadden, said moving away from natural gas is “a matter of  real survival and the future of our city — and especially our economic future.” 

“We’re being forced in this direction by nature, but also by policy and by business and industry,” she said. “People are making these decisions because it’s economical, it’s healthier, it’s safer.”

The New York Sun

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