America is highly polarized now, and that has contributed to conflict between governmental entities. A major example of this is the “sanctuary cities” movement that seeks to avoid enforcement of federal immigration law. A number of the conflicts involve environmental protection as well.
Some Arizona legislators have sought to prevent some of those conflicts by enacting laws prohibiting cities from passing certain restrictions. Two bills have emerged this year with an intent of blocking cities from banning natural gas hookups, meaning new homes and buildings would have to be all-electric. The bills are sponsored by Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, meaning they have a strong chance of passage.
No city has yet passed such a ban. However, Phoenix and Tucson are listed among the opponents of the bills. Democrats voted against them in committee. Meanwhile, homebuilders and gas utilities are supportive. The powerful Arizona League of Cities and Towns, which usually opposes limits on cities, has not weighed in. Some cities themselves operate utilities. Also, the affordability issue is important to advocates for low-income people.
Such a ban on natural gas likely would force residents to pay more for energy, since gas is seen as more efficient for some needs. And use of only electricity would not necessarily mean a lower impact on the environment, since electric power is generated by various means.
Arizona continues to attract new residents, and many of them are from California. The middle class is fleeing the Golden State because of a high cost of living and some left-leaning political changes there. Some Arizonans fear that “California ideas” will come with new residents, but that remains to be seen.
Affordability still is a major issue for most Arizonans. Banning natural gas hookups here would be a mistake that would have a negative impact that many people would not like. The Legislature would be wise to provide protection in this area.