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Pennsylvania’s state Senate aims bill at preventing all-electric building codes

Jerry McBride

Pennsylvania's state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would bar municipalities in the nation’s No. 2 natural gas state from adopting building codes that prohibit gas hookups or otherwise restricting utility service based on the energy source.

The Republican-penned bill passed, 35-15, and heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration there. The chamber approved it without debate, with six Democrats joining all 29 Republicans in favor of it.

The bill defends a homegrown energy source in Pennsylvania as some states, cities and counties elsewhere begin looking at all-electric building codes that exclude gas infrastructure as a way to fight climate change and accelerate progress towards a carbon-free electricity grid.

The vast Marcellus Shale reservoir beneath Pennsylvania is the nation's most prolific natural gas reservoir, and the state has helped subsidize the build out of gas infrastructure to help the industry find new customers.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, said the bill ensures the state controls any decision to restrict the use of an energy source in housing and commercial buildings.

Combustion of natural gas emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, while natural gas contains methane, which is far more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, according to researchers.

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