FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2019
Contact: Alise Murawski at [email protected] or 202-702-6903
Kalin Jordan at [email protected] or 253-249-1193
Brookline Bylaw Bans New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure In Major Construction
Bylaw is only such regulation in country to address not only new construction but also renovations, will significantly reduce local emissions
BROOKLINE, Mass. — Brookline Town Meeting tonight approved sweeping legislation prohibiting installation of new fossil fuel infrastructure in major construction. Passed with a vote of 207 to 3, with six votes abstaining, sponsors and supporters of the bylaw, known as Warrant Article 21, are confident that it will reduce Brookline’s carbon emissions from buildings by an estimated 15% over the next 30 years through this single action. The bylaw is part of a wave of fossil fuel bans initiated in July in Berkeley, California. Brookline’s ban is the first one east of the Sierra Nevadas and the only one to include renovation projects.
“This is a historic day for the community of Brookline and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Lisa Cunningham, a Town Meeting member, an architect, a volunteer with Mothers Out Front, and a co-sponsor of the bylaw. “We advocated for a bylaw that was practical and forward-thinking, consulting with stakeholders as well as experts in the building and construction industry. I hope this demonstrates to parents and citizens across the country that they also have the power to move their communities to a clean energy future.”
The bylaw prohibits installation of new gas and oil piping in new buildings, as well as in gut renovations. Under the bylaw, space heating, hot water, and other building needs will instead rely on electricity. The bylaw exempts fuel piping needed for backup generators, cooking, laboratories and medical offices, and for central domestic hot water systems in large buildings.
On the current New England electrical grid, a building switching from gas to electricity will have lower overall emissions. Unlike a gas building, an all-electric building also gets cleaner every year as the electrical grid greens, and it has the optionality of carbon-free operations through purchase of 100% renewable electricity.
“In order to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and meet our climate goals, we need to take action,” said Kathleen Scanlon, another co-petitioner, architect, and volunteer with Mothers Out Front. “We cannot install new gas infrastructure that will last 30 years, past the time that we have committed to achieving zero emissions. This decision will move us away from new oil and gas infrastructure when it’s convenient and possible to do so. It’s a step in the right direction for Brookline and for our climate.”
Broader than recent bans passed in communities like Berkeley, California, due to its inclusion of major renovations, this bylaw points to the growing demand for local solutions to the larger issue of global warming. Communities like Brookline feel they can no longer wait for federal or state gridlock to clear and are moving forward on local action.
"We know what we need to do to avoid a climate catastrophe,” said State Rep. Thomas Vitolo (D-Brookline). “The decision that Brookline made tonight not only signals to our community that clean heating and cooling are possible and practical, but also shows residents and policymakers throughout the state, the nation, and the world that they can do it, too. We must take this step, and many others, everywhere. I'm glad we've started here."
The warrant article was vetted by numerous committees including the Select Board; the Advisory Committee; Diversity, Inclusion & Community Relations; the Housing Advisory Board; the Economic Development Advisory Board; Climate Action Brookline, Elders Climate Action, and the Brookline Green Caucus.
The bylaw will now be reviewed by the Municipal Law Unit of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, with an effective date of January 1, 2021 or thereafter.
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