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  • Writer's pictureTony Zelinski

East Coast’s first countywide gas ban passed in Md.

Montgomery County, Md., moved yesterday to become the first county on the East Coast to ban natural gas as a source of heat in new buildings, pleasing green groups even as critics warned of higher energy costs.

The gas limits, backed in a 9-0 vote by the Montgomery County Council’s Democratic members, are expected to go into effect by the end of 2026 as part of local building codes. About 1.1 million people live in Montgomery County, which adjoins the District of Columbia and is the state’s largest county.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich — who needs to sign the provisions before they can be enacted — has previously voiced support for the gas ban.

Under the plan, most new buildings in the county will be required to use electricity or other noncombustion technologies for space and water heat, as well as for cooking.

Hans Riemer, a Democratic council member and lead sponsor of the measure, known as Bill 13-22, called the vote “a giant step forward toward cleaner buildings and a better climate” in a statement yesterday.

He predicted that other counties in Maryland, as well as the state Legislature itself, would follow suit and pass similar restrictions on fossil fuel use in buildings. Only two U.S. states — Washington and California — have approved statewide restrictions on fossil fuel heat. Those are set to be fully in place by the end of the decade, with Washington state requiring many homes to use electricity as a primary fuel source beginning next year. The District of Columbia also enacted a similar policy last summer.....

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