Oil and Gas

Cities Across the U.S. Ban Natural Gas in New Construction

There’s a new public enemy.

Battle lines are already being drawn. And the impact will be felt for decades to come.

In July 2019, Berkeley, California, was the spark that lit the match.

It became the first city in its state to ban natural gas pipes in new buildings. This ban began on January 1, 2020.

The city council’s vote was unanimous. And public commentary was unanimously in favor of the ban.

Over the next year, dozens of cities in California picked up the torch, including Sacramento and San Francisco.

Now around 50 cities in the state have banned natural gas in new construction.

But the movement has spread beyond California’s borders

Seattle… Eugene, Oregon… Denver… and Salt Lake City are just a few of the cities that have adopted similar measures.

And recently, the biggest domino of them all toppled: New York City.

Today, we’ll discuss what this means for the rest of the country… as well as which companies it will help and which it will hurt the most.

The New Dividing Line?

Of course, the move to ban natural gas does not come without controversy.

Political backlash is swift and often pointed. And natural gas is emerging as the latest dividing line between red and blue states.

Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Texas and 16 other states have passed laws that forbid cities from restricting gas use.

Many of these laws have been passed in the past year. And I expect the number of states that oppose natural gas curbs to grow, along with the number of states that seek to outlaw gas stoves in homes.

Now, the one resource that the U.S. has an abundance of is natural gas. The country produces 88.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. This makes the country one of the top producers in the world and represents 23.7% of global production. Russia is a distant second at 61.6 billion cubic feet per day.

The U.S. is also the world’s largest consumer of natural gas, gobbling up 80.3 billion cubic feet per day, or 21.8% of global supply.

And the U.S. is home to 446 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. This puts the country in the top five nations with the largest reserves.

Over the past decade, global natural gas consumption has grown at an average annual rate of 2.9%, nearly double that of oil and three times the rate of coal.

That’s due to natural gas being the cleanest, most efficient burning fossil fuel.

The world has turned to it to replace coal and as a backup power source for renewables. Natural gas power plants produce as much as 60% less carbon dioxide than coal-powered plants. And natural gas burns at a 92% efficiency rate, compared with coal’s 32% efficiency rate.

For these reasons and more, natural gas was considered a friend to the environment not so long ago.

But the tables have turned.

The Next Era of Energy

Now, maybe you’re shaking your head and trying to stifle a chuckle at how absurd you think this ban is.

Is this the moment the green energy movement has jumped the shark?

But listen up… The fight over using natural gas in buildings is only beginning. This will be a major focus for the next decade.

Over the past several years, I’ve argued that peak energy profits have passed.

There will be brief periods when crude oil, coal and natural gas can be traded. But the long-term view is bearish as the world focuses on reducing its consumption of fossil fuels.

Electric vehicles are here. Even as the global automotive market collapsed in 2020, sales of EVs skyrocketed more than 40% to new records!

Soon, they will jump the innovation chasm in the U.S. from the early market to the mainstream market. And by 2030, EVs are expected to snag 27% of total new car sales. Plenty of automakers have already announced plans to shift away from combustion engines by 2050, if not sooner.

Renewables like solar and wind continue to hum along the adoption highway. And biomass is gaining momentum worldwide.

Because of this, fossil fuel use in homes and businesses – not automobiles or utilities – is now in the crosshairs.

Proponents point out that 13% of America’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are produced by residential and commercial buildings.

And of that, 80% of the emissions are directly the result of using natural gas or other petroleum products for cooking and heating. Keep in mind, that’s just direct greenhouse gas emissions. There are also indirect emissions from local utilities that are burning fossil fuels to provide electricity.

The Biggest Losers… and Winners

The movement against natural gas is one of the fastest-growing trends. And electric utilities, like PG&E Corp. (NYSE: PCG), are all for it… Why wouldn’t they be? A completely electric state benefits them.

If this campaign against natural gas gains even more momentum, electric utilities, like NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), will be the winners, while natural gas utilities – such as Sempra (NYSE: SRE) – will get the short end of the stick.

This isn’t going to happen overnight. But this is definitely the fight that investors need to watch for the next decade.

Here’s to high returns,

Matthew

P.S. The new year is just around the corner! To learn about the top renewable energy trends for 2022, click here.

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