Measure to prevent phasing out of natural gas in WA is on track for November ballot

Anthony Anton, president of the Washington Hospitality Association, loads a box of signed Initiative 2066 petitions into a cart for delivery to the Secretary of State’s Office on July 2. The proposed measure would halt the state’s push to end natural gas use in homes and buildings. (Jerry Cornfield/Washington State Standard)

It’s now all but assured voters will get to weigh in this November on Washington’s polarizing efforts to phase out natural gas use in homes and other buildings.

Backers of an initiative aimed at reversing the state’s climate-oriented policies turned in more than 400,000 signatures in support of the measure on Tuesday. They delivered boxes of petitions for Initiative 2066 to the secretary of state’s office in Tumwater just 49 days after the first ones were signed.

Sponsors said they turned in 431,063 signatures, nearly 110,000 more than required to qualify for this fall’s general election.

“It is very simple. If you have natural gas, this protects you to be able to keep natural gas in your home or in your business. And it protects the freedom of every single Washingtonian to have the clean energy of their choice,” said Greg Lane, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Washington, the measure’s main sponsor.

Initiative 2066 repeals provisions of a new state law meant to hasten Puget Sound Energy’s transition away from natural gas. It also bars cities and counties from prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging “the use of gas for any form of heating, or for uses related to any appliance or equipment, in any building.”

And the measure would effectively nullify recent changes to Washington’s energy code designed to get more electric heat pumps – instead of gas furnaces – installed in newly built houses, apartments and commercial buildings.

Critics of the measure say it would force the state to retreat from many fronts in its fight against climate change and pursuit of clean energy.

“I-2066 would take away communities’ choice, jeopardize rebate programs that help families and small business owners afford building upgrades, repeal common-sense measures that make homes and workplaces more energy efficient and healthy, and erode clean air protections,” said Caitlin Krenn, climate and clean energy director for Washington Conservation Action.

“Over time this measure will raise energy costs for hardworking Washingtonians,” she noted.

In a statement, Puget Sound Energy said it is “deeply concerned about the misinformation that continues to be spread about natural gas.”

“There is no ban on natural gas,” reads the utility’s statement. “PSE has an obligation to serve any customer who wants natural gas.”

House Bill 1589, the law targeted by the ballot measure, did not change that so those provisions in I-2066 would not affect PSE or its customers, according to the statement. PSE has posted information on HB 1589 on its website.

Lane disagreed. He insisted the intent of one section of the law “will be the electrification of the state. They can say what they want. I think they’re wrong.”

Gregg Small, executive director of the environmental group Climate Solutions, said the measure “would be a major misstep in our path toward a clean energy future that keeps costs lower.”

Planning is critical to keeping utility bills of existing gas customers as low as possible as the state transitions to other sources of energy to heat homes, he said. By repealing some requirements, the initiative “will cost ratepayers more and negatively impact our health by prolonging our reliance on burning polluting gas in our homes and buildings,” he said.

BIAW, the state’s leading voice for the home building industry, drew up the measure and assembled a coalition of backers including the Washington Hospitality Association, Washington Realtors and Associated General Contractors. BIAW formed a political committee, Main Street Matters to Washington, to help get the measure on the ballot and pass it.

Let’s Go Washington, which qualified three Republican-backed measures state voters are already set to decide in November, conducted the signature-gathering effort.

The group has raised roughly $2.2 million since May 15 when the first I-2066 petitions were signed. Main Street Matters to Washington pumped in $750,000 of that sum and BIAW put in $500,000, making them the largest donors, according to reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. Brian Heywood, the millionaire founder of Let’s Go Washington, is not one of the contributors.

If Initiative 2066 qualifies, it will be the first item on the ballot, followed by those other measures that propose scrapping the state’s cap-and-trade system, ending its capital gains tax and making a long-term care program optional.

On Tuesday, Lane said he didn’t know if BIAW would conduct a separate campaign or coordinate with Let’s Go Washington to convince voters to pass all four.

“I have no idea yet. We’ll have to take a look at that. We’ll have to see what that means for this one,” he said. “We have been solely focused on getting this one qualified.”

by Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

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  1. Gas is not clean energy. It is filled with toxins. And when it leaks inside your home it can cause health issues. Leaks can also explode. I have had several leaks in homes where I lived. Just tiny openings can let the gas escape. That is why I took out my gas furnace and electric stove and got a heat pump and induction stove. PSE disconnected my gas line at the street (for free) and I am so glad to not have gas on my property anymore. I am still at risk from my neighbors though. So don’t buy the argument that gas is clean energy. The toxins can give you cancer or make children prone to asthma. It is not safe to breath the emissions from those flames.

  2. Arlene: It is exactly the opposite. When we build our house in 1976, our area was all electric in Edmonds. But we moved from California. We had a gas dryer and a gas barbecue. So we needed gas to our house. From 1976 to 2011, we had an electric furnace and electric water heater. Our electric furnace was SO slow to warm up the house and VERY expensive.. In 2011, we were finally able to afford to change our electric furnace and water heater to natural gas. What a difference!!!! Our home heats quickly, we always have hot water, and it is significantly cheaper. I will never go back to electric. There is no comparison!!!! So don’t buy the argument that electric furnace is better and cheaper!!! Never a leak and I have never heard of a leaking furnace.

    1. The old electric furnaces are expensive but the new heat pumps are cheaper than gas. They work like your frig to transfer heat instead of using a fuel to make heat. Mine works down to -15 degrees below zero. If you converted to a heat pump you would be saving much more money over the old electric furnace. And you would not have to worry about gas leaks. Plus you would be doing something to give a good future to your grandchildren because of climate change. I care about the grandchildren.

      1. Ms. Williams – Wrong on all counts. Nat Gas on our present system has in-fact a lower carbon intensity (CI) than our electric system due transmission losses. Gas is also much lower cost than renewables and there will be no new renewables in meaningful amounts until the BPA installs a new east/west transmission line which isn’t scheduled for another 15+ years. Costs are rising due to the massive expansion in AI-related data centers and usage; the Big Techs can and do out compete consumers for these resources. Poor energy planning in the state and the region. Also, heat pumps cost much more (as much as 4X efficient gas furnaces. Lastly, the gas we use is not from fracked resources (it is from Canada).

        1. You talk about our “present system” which does not take into account a rapidly changing energy system and you don’t cite any reliable sources for your claims that gas is much lower in cost than renewables. That is not what I have read for utility scale generation especially considering the IRA. Plus, if we want to talk about costs, we have all the rising costs from climate disasters which are raising our insurance rates because of wildfires and floods. Gas which is methane is a potent source of emissions. There is lots of methane leaking all through the gas supply chain and it is increasing global heating, causing rising costs not only from disaster, but also from health related costs, with many insect and fungal diseases heading north. There is even evidence that toxic algae blooms, which occur more often in warmer waters, can increase the risk of diseases like ALS and dementia. We are changing our climate so radically and it will affect us in ways that make life unbearable and costly. We need to do all we can to slow the heating down.

        2. I am also closing this comment thread. We are starting to go in circles on the topic.

    2. Gas Furnaces leak carbon monoxide all the time. It kills plenty of people.

      1. So does electricity, Arlene. Nothing that produces energy is perfectly safe. If a single death were the threshold for safety, we would not fly, drive, bike, swim, or take showers. I trust my fellow citizens to make good decisions more, than I trust faceless government bureaucrats.

        1. Well the thing about electricity is no matter what… you are going to have it in your home. To run the frig, the lights, your computer and TV. With gas you have double the risk with two sources of danger… the electricity and the gas. It is less risky to only have one…. Electricity.

    3. Gas Furnaces leak carbon monoxide all the time. It kills plenty of people. And with gas… all the pipe connections all through the line have the potential to leak… not just the furnace or the stove or water heater. That is what happened to my gas lines three separate times. We didn’t even notice a smell on one of them behind the stove. It was very dangerous and we are lucky we didn’t have a disaster.

  3. I watched the signature gatherers at both the Clinton and Mukilteo ferry holding lines. They were not informing people of the issue but people were willing to sign without asking questions. Disappointing that people have no interest in being informed.

  4. When folks come home in the evening and turn up the furnace, use hot water, cook, and dry clothes, it cause a spike in demand for energy. If you are all electric 100% of this spike in electricity demand is met by turning on natural gas turbines in Washington State. The problem is that natural gas turbine generators are only 35-45% efficient which means that it take two to three times more natural gas to proce the heat that it would to produce heat directly by burning natural gas in your home.

    Bottom line, if you want to burn less natural gas, don’t electrify your home.

    Don’t believe me, ask PSE. You cannot dream your way out of the laws of physics.

    1. That is an old argument that is outdated. There will soon be lots of battery storage available for renewable energy. And there are even new forms of batteries being developed. Beyond the lithium ion ones. This is the future. Fossil fuels are the past . There is no reason to think that the past needs for natural gas will exist in the future.

      1. False. Battery storage has nothing to do with it. You obviously don’t understand. How are you going to charge the battery? With a natural gas generator that burns two to three times the natural gas, to generate the same heat.

        1. You must be thinking of home battery storage but I am talking about huge commercial sized battery storage that is charged in the daytime when there is excess solar generation. This is happening. You don’t need gas to charge these huge batteries . You use wind and solar. And there are new types of storage batteries being developed for these large capacity systems.

  5. Every source of energy has pluses and minuses. I prefer having a choice. This state is in no way prepared to disallow and discontinue the use of natural gas. It’s so typical of legislators to again, put the cart before the horse. Growing up, I lived through Brown outs, Black outs, and restricted times for using large appliances, dishwashers, washers, dryers, etc, because the electric power plants and grids could not keep up with the demand for electricity. Please think this through thoroughly before you jump on the no more gas bandwagon.

    1. Please think this through when you defend the old ways of thinking. If climate change creates extensive drought in our area then the blackouts will come from PSE having to turn off the power because of the threat of wildfire like PGE had to do in California this week. If you think through the repercussions of climate change which is coming on us fast… then you will see that your demands for choice to keep racking up emissions from gas is an unreasonable, expensive, and self-centered one.

      1. I have thought it through. It take three times more gas to generate the electricity, to produce the same heat. It is intellectually dishonest to burn three times the gas, and tell yourself that this is improving the planet.

        With electricity you have to measure the impacts of how you are generating the electricity. The impact of generating electricity is you have to burn two to three times the natural gas, to generate enough electricity in a home, to generate the same heat.

        You are not being scientifically honest with people. Look it up for Pete’s sake.

        1. You are making my argument for me… gas is not efficient so we should stop using it and invest in renewables and battery storage for peak use. Solar is now so cheap that its implementation is skyrocketing across the globe. Fossil fuels will be left behind and those that stick with them will pay higher and higher prices.

  6. Sorry but you don’t understand. You charge the battery with solar and wind. Not gas . California often produces excess solar in the daytimes and that power can be stored in the batteries. Across the world because solar is ramping up so fast since it is so cheap, humans are now installing one gigawatt of solar every twelve hours globally. We have vast amounts of solar energy to tap in Eastern Washington. We need to move away from fossil fuels to cheaper Alternatives.

    1. No, not accurate. You don’t know enough about energy generation, transmission and the actual costs of power. Globally renewables are less than 4% of all power generation. EVs are incredibly carbon intensive given the minerals, logistics and lack of recycling. Your comments indicate lack of actual knowledge and reflect indoctrination.

  7. Gwen, I totally agree with you. We changed our house to natural gas in 2000. It heats our house quickly and evenly. We have a natural gas BBQ, fireplace, dryer, hot water heater and range. When the power was off las winter and it was 21 degrees outside side, we were so thankful for our gas fireplace as we could heat our home plus with BBQ having a burner, we were able to cook. If food Les don’t want natural gas fine, I want to make that decision for myself. I don’t need the government taking that away. Also restaurants need natural gas so they can prepare food in a timely manner. I will never go back to an electric range. Way too slow. Citizens need to be able to make their own decision and not having the government making the decision for them.

    1. My heat pump keeps my house warm and also cool in summer. It doesn’t blast out heat and then turn off. It heats more evenly than a gas furnace. Induction stoves cook faster than old electric and gas stoves. When restaurants convert to them, they love them. And they are much safer too. Only the pot gets hot. You can’t catch fire from gas flames, which happened to a family friend… she died. Many gas appliances like furnaces and stoves and gas fireplaces have electric ignitions and won’t work when the power goes out… so you can now even get solar generators to back up your electric power and of course home storage batteries. Even some EVs can power a house for a few days from their batteries. And when it comes to the children who will suffer so much from the selfish choices of many right now to not reduce emissions, I stand with the children. Conservatives say they are for the children… but they are dooming them and their future lives. That is not taking care of the children. Mothers, grandmothers… think about your children.

  8. Arlene, why don’t we allow people to make their own decisions?

    Why are you using the government to force your decisions on everybody else?

    Do you really think that only Democrats love their children?

    1. Everyone complained when the government mandated seat belts but it was for everyone’s good. It saved lives and made insurance cheaper. Cutting methane emissions from gas will more quickly reduce climate impacts because methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Gas also pollutes indoor air with benzene and nitrous oxide which can increase the development and impact of asthma in children. And yes those who deny climate science and try to stifle climate solutions are not taking care for their Children’s future because delaying will leave them with a world that is not a stable or safe or easy world to live in. I don’t want my grandchildren to face that. We are the adults and we should be doing all we can to make the world better for them, not worse.

      1. Picking a single “good” government action, and trying logically to bootstrap that government action that therefore every government action, is flawed logic. Every decision and its’ effects needs to be measured on its’ own merits.

        Most people know this because there are boatloads of government actions that have turned out to be horrible decisions. How about those WMD’s? A bad government decision, does not logically conclude that all government decisions are bad.

        While in our system elections matter, but this decision being made by a handful of elected officials, is unpopular because this is not a decision being made by citizens directly, and so many citizens disagree, that we now have an initiative before the people. We will discover if our elected representatives really represent the body politic, now won’t we?

        While in theory, solar and batteries can provide us clean electricity, there is one problem, it doesn’t exist today. Broad reliable renewable electricity does not exist today, and it is far more expensive than you are misleading people to believe. Ask Germany.

        I just got done working on a million horsepower gas turbine that generates electricity for peak demand. The industry actually calls these “peaker” plants. They are rubbing their hands together at the amount of business the anti-gas crowd is going to create for

        You will force us to burn double the gas

        1. Well Doug, we know why you are so opposed to stopping gas… you make your money from gas. You have an incentive to slant everything to your advantage. And solar with batteries for peak usage does exist but you won’t want to acknowledge that since you work on the gas plants. California has rapidly accelerated its battery storage capacity see: https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/california-drives-us-battery-storage-growth-power-systems-2024-06-26/ and it is adding more and more capacity. “For some periods during the CAISO system demand peak in early evening, batteries can be the largest single source of electricity, surpassing the volumes generated by hydro dams, nuclear reactors and natural gas plants.”

    2. We have many laws and many restraints – we do not allow people to make their own decisions about driving speed, dangerous outdoor fires, even late-night noise. It is the business of government to make decisions and laws for the benefit of the society at large. Science indicates the dangers of gas, both in the household and in the environment, so we try to phase it out.

      Arlene is not using government to “force her decisions on everyone else.” Government is chosen by elections in which everyone can participate, thus governmental decisions are collective. Arlene is not forcing anything – she is supporting governmental, hence elective, decisions made with the best interests of all in mind. We can certainly dissent – that is what elections and initiatives are about.

      I doubt very much that Arlene believes that only Democrats love their children; but she might believe that in this instance, Democrats are making better decisions for their children’s future welfare. Others may disagree; they are free to run for office, start initiatives, and vote.

  9. The reason we don’t allow people to make their own decisions is because they only think about themselves. Unless you live under a rock, you must be aware that climate change is going to destroy our world as we know it. Fires, heat waves, flooding, hurricanes. in order to try and mitigate, the government must step in to force change because again, people only make decisions to for themselves, not for the greater good. You nust be willing to be inconvenienced for future generations.

  10. a quick review of the medical literature shows little to no evidence of widespread ( “plenty of…”) deaths or illnesses from the use of natural gas in the household. This does not include suicides which is not the subject of this discussion. With use of household natural gas by many millions of households in America and throughout the world, one would expect the literature to be filled with many reports of illness and deaths if this were indeed a serious problem; the same is true for asthma resulting from gas stoves.
    As an aside, if electrical energy is to be our sole or primary source of energy, inefficient solar is not the answer. If one is serious about electricity to power our world, the source of clean energy must be nuclear, not solar.

    1. Gerald: You are not correct about the medical literature: “One study from 2022 suggested that gas stove use has an association with 12.7% of childhood asthma cases. The same study also found that the states in the U.S. with the highest number of gas stove users also have the highest rates of childhood asthma. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gas-stove-asthma#environmental-factors
      This same article adds formaldehyde as another toxin released when gas burns. Plus the Carbon monoxide poisoning: in 2022 there were 624 accidental deaths from carbon monoxide (this is not counting suicides which were an additional 579), plus each year in the US, over 100,000 people visit an emergency room for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, with tens of thousands hospitalized. see; https://usafacts.org/articles/is-carbon-monoxide-still-a-problem-in-the-us/

  11. Arlene, one of the problems with public debate is that you can either make the other parson look like a fool, or make yourself look like a fool. I have been a commercial fisherman for 52 years now. I helped a construction company owned by a friend for a month. I spoke directly with a plant operator and asked him what would generate the electricity in the evening surge, if gas were banned? He said the electrify in Washington State would be generated 100% by natural gas generators, like the one we were standing in. I don’t know what the situation is in California is, but we cannot generate gas replacement electricity with solar and batteries in Washington State. Do the research Arlene. I do know a lot about “clean” hydro, that has wiped out the salmon, if you wanted to ask a question. Natural gas when burning with adequate oxygen provokes carbon dioxide and water. Under rare conditions it is possible for natural gas to produce carbon monoxide and kills about 35 people a year. We lose 3,500 people a year to drowning, but we don’t ban pools to “save” the children. Carbon dioxide and water we breath everyday, and not from natural gas.

    1. You are the one who said it: I just got done working on a million horsepower gas turbine that generates electricity for peak demand. And there are not 35 deaths a year from CO. In 2022 there were 624 accidental deaths from carbon monoxide (this is not counting suicides which were an additional 579), plus each year in the US, over 100,000 people visit an emergency room for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, with tens of thousands hospitalized. And there is Nitrogen Oxides which can cause respiratory distress plus benzene and formaldehyde that come from burning methane gas. And you can denounce climate science, but even the oil companies’ scientists in the 1970s/80s knew about CO2 emissions causing climate change and the oil companies suppressed it, deciding to call it all a hoax. And there is plenty of solar in eastern Washington to be tapped. The advances in solar and the reductions in the cost of solar are only accelerating. But you can believe what you want and deny climate change and make sure the future is unstable, expensive, and difficult to survive.

      1. Arlene, I am not trying to be rude, but you really do need to do more accurate research. Deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning is virtually zero.

        Below is a link to a very detailed report done by oncerning the number of deaths attributed to natural gas. Please read the table on page 10. You are flat wrong on your facts Arlene.

        Link: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Non-Fire-Carbon-Monoxide-Deaths-Associated-with-the-Use-of-Consumer-Products-2017-Annual-Estimates.pdf

        1. The table on page 10 shows that about 50 Americans are killed every year by carbon monoxide poisoning from heating systems that burn gas, kerosene, or coal — mostly from gas furnaces.
          The article is by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you go to their home page, you will see the biggest news in their world right now is $3 million in grants to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. I guess they think it’s a big deal. https://www.cpsc.gov/

          There is something different about deaths that could be prevented easily by building homes differently, compared to deaths, like cancer, that are not easy to prevent.

  12. other studies have contradicted the quoted study. It is a virtually impossible to identify gas stove related asthma with so many other factors which contribute to asthma. Which states are involved, do they have more external allergens such as pollen, external dust, etc., are there more people with hereditary tendencies to asthma, how often do they use their stoves, are the children present? In addition, do all states diagnose and report asthma asaccurately than others,
    Also, are the deaths related to gas stove induced carbon monoxide???
    Finally, are there no injuries or fires related to electric stoves, burns, fires??
    Determining cause and effect can be very difficult.

    1. The study didn’t say all cases of asthma were caused by gas, but you can’t breathe in all the noxious fumes from Nitrogen oxides, benzene, formaldehyde etc. and never have any affect. You dismiss all the science that doesn’t fit your idea of the world. CO deaths can come from any faulty gas burning appliance including stoves, hot water heaters, and furnaces. That’s why I am glad there is no gas left in my home. PSE disconnected my gas line. Now I don’t have that as a risk factor. And I have an electric induction stove in which only the pot gets hot, so there is no burner, either electric or gas, that stays hot or can catch my hair on fire.

      1. Latest number of signatures submitted for I-2066….546,000! Wow! In November Washington state voters will have the the choice to decide if they want natural gas! Another great sign that people in our state are working together to bring back or support common sense policies.

        1. This is terrific news. The people of the State of Washington want to have a choice with natural gas

        2. When the number of voters is in the millions, 546,000 is not representative of the outcome. And nothing in Washington State law makes you give up your gas furnace or stove. You can choose to have it… This is not California. However those that choose to use gas will be giving off more carbon emissions and creating more climate extremes, like increasing wildfires, heat, drought, flood. Our children deserve better for their future. I stand with the children. I think gas is not the best choice for their future. It will lock in all those emissions. That is why I am against this initiative.

      2. Arlene, thank you for your fact-based, informative posts. I would add the numbers that show the ill effects from burning gas in our homes is likely very low as many people become sick and the cause is not traced back to the noxious fumes. Education about these effects will help physicians treat people more completely, and allow the people who are sickened to remove the source from their homes (or move).

  13. As my Grandmother used to say, ” Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When you drop your basket, you have nothing.” We need safe choices for our energy needs.

  14. I will be disappointed if this initiative passes. It will reinforce that most people are selfish. “Natural gas is the best energy for me, I don’t care how it affects the climate.” When will people be willing to be inconvenienced and change? When it is too late?

  15. “The people of the State of Washington want to have a choice with natural gas.”

    SOME of the people. Let’s not go overboard and make sweeping claims for everyone.

    1. You’re right, I agree, there are those in this in this state that don’t want people to have reasonable choices. Go figure…

  16. regarding 50 deaths from carbon monoxide; were they all due to gas stoves or were there other sources of carbon monoxide? Do they know?
    Did they refer to the number of people who were killed or burned by electric stoves or other sources of electrical fires.
    When you think of it, having a very high open heat source, of any kind, in a home with children is a potential risk.
    Are we willing to make political decisions of major importance based on partial, unproven, or speculative “facts”?

  17. Gerald the safest stove is an electric induction stove. Only the pot gets hot since it is magnetic induction. This reduces the risk of burns tremendously and they are more efficient and faster cooking. This is the safest stove to have for children. Ours was a very reasonable price at Lowes on a sale weekend. It works wonderfully.

    1. Mine, a plug-in, was around $60. It boils faster and simmers better than my gas stove, which a rarely use anymore, and it has far more precise and even heat – no hot spots and burned places.

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