That spring, Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Louisiana passed laws that barred cities from banning natural gas. In Oklahoma, the gas industry drew support from groups like the AARP, the influential lobby for older Americans, as well as restaurants, hotels, homebuilders and barbecue equipment makers.
“The message was: ‘You don’t want these California liberals telling you that you can’t have a gas stove,’” said Mary Boren, a Democratic state senator in Oklahoma who voted against the bill.
In a statement, Bill Malcolm, a senior legislative representative at the AARP, said the group had “supported legislative and regulatory initiatives allowing customers to continue to use the fuel of their choice to heat their homes and cook their food.” He added: “Outright bans on certain fuel options would run contrary to that choice.”
Asked this week about its lobbying campaign, American Gas Association spokesman Jake Rubin said the group had “studied the implications of electrification as well as public perception of policies that would force American families to replace their natural gas appliances with more expensive, less efficient alternatives. The association has shared this research with groups that rely on the affordability and reliability of natural gas like restaurants, manufacturers, appliance makers, homebuilders and low-income families and encouraged them to make their voices heard about the damaging impacts of these policies.”
This year, Republican-controlled legislatures in 16 additional states have passed measures to forbid cities from banning gas, including Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. A similar bill in North Carolina was recently vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, while another such bill is being debated in Pennsylvania.
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Even in states that aren’t considering gas bans, the pushback has been fierce.
This year in Nevada, Lesley Cohen, a Democratic state legislator, proposed a bill to apply greater scrutiny to new natural gas infrastructure. The state’s largest gas utility, Southwest Gas, worked to defeat the legislation, enlisting a wide range of allies like the AARP. The president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce warned that the bill could force “abuelo and abuela to make a choice between medicine and groceries or heating their home affordably in the winter.”