Beacon, NY City Council Unanimously Votes to Ban Fossil Fuels in New Buildings

Bill Passed Monday Makes Beacon The First Hudson Valley Municipality To Ban Fossil Fuels In New Construction; Third Statewide

Published Mar 21, 2023


Climate and Energy

Bill Passed Monday Makes Beacon The First Hudson Valley Municipality To Ban Fossil Fuels In New Construction; Third Statewide

Bill Passed Monday Makes Beacon The First Hudson Valley Municipality To Ban Fossil Fuels In New Construction; Third Statewide

BEACON, NY — On Monday, the Beacon City Council passed legislation to require all-electric construction for all new buildings in Beacon. The law requires all-electric construction for all new buildings and major renovations starting in 2024, and mirrors language in the statewide All-Electric New Building Act proposed with 85 co-sponsors in Albany. The legislation’s passage makes Beacon the first Hudson Valley municipality with a ban on fossil fuels in new construction; the third statewide after Ithaca and New York City. The move comes amidst mounting pressure on Governor Hochul, the State Senate and Assembly to include a similar` ban in the state budget due next month, after the Senate and Assembly endorsed the move last week, putting New York on the brink of passing a first-in-the-nation building electrification law.

Banning fossil fuels in new construction simultaneously addresses the worsening climate crisis and skyrocketing home energy bills, while attracting new green businesses and jobs. Buildings are New York’s largest polluters, producing 32% of the state’s climate-heating greenhouse gas emissions. Ending fossil fuel use in new construction would prevent air pollution equivalent to keeping 870,000 gas-powered cars off the road every year, and save families in new homes statewide an average of over $900 a year on energy bills. Experts also predict that building electrification will bring up to 25 million jobs nationwide over the next 15 years. Buildings are New York’s largest polluters, producing 32% of the state’s climate-heating greenhouse gas emissions — all-electric construction would slash climate warming emissions.

“Beacon’s law requiring the electrification of all new buildings and major renovations is one of the strongest, fastest, and easiest to implement in the nation. It’s also a significant law in the history of Beacon because it essentially means we’ve reached or passed our peak emissions,” said City Councilmember Dan Aymar-Blair, who originally proposed the law along with City Councilmember Paloma Wake. “As Beaconites go out and take advantage of state and federal incentives to electrify their homes and cars, Beacon’s emissions will only go down from here. We should all be proud of the moment; we turned the ship.”

“Beacon has come a long way from dumping chemicals and sewage directly into the river and has become a real leader in Climate action. With a clear vision and sustained community organizing this City has worked together to build towards a climate resilient future.” said City Councilmember Paloma Wake. “This policy will benefit all Beacon residents financially through long-term cost savings for building owners and in the comfort, health, and safety of the individuals who live in these buildings. I thank my fellow Councilmembers and community members for developing the best policy for Beacon and our collective future.”

At a press conference Monday, speakers called on state leadership to follow Beacon’s lead and ban fossil fuels in new construction via the state budget due next month. Speakers urged a prompt statewide ban, following the Beacon legislation’s lead, taking effect in 2024.

“When Beacon leads, others follow.” said Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel. “A gas-free Beacon will save residents money on their energy bills, spur economic growth in the green economy and draw down climate-warming emissions. Dirty fuels like fracked gas have no place in the buildings where we live, work and play. Next up, the state legislature must follow suit and pass the All-Electric Building Act in the budget.”

“When we first started our campaign to pass gas-free buildings legislation, this issue wasn’t even being discussed by the City Council. Now we’ve passed one of the most ambitious bills in the country,” said Veekas Ashoka, co-founder of Beacon Climate Action Now (BCAN). “We made that change by talking to our neighbors and letting them know that fossil fuel corporations like Central Hudson are lying to them about gas at the cost of our money and our children’s health. Hundreds of Beaconites of all political affiliations and backgrounds signed our petition demanding bold action from our city and beyond. Tonight Beacon voted to fight back against those who profit off of our pain, and we demand that New York follows our lead by banning gas hookups in new buildings starting in 2024 in the state budget next month. BCAN will build on this win and continue standing up for justice for everyone in our region so that we can create a healthier, happier future together.”

“This is a proud moment for Beacon,” said Thomas Wright, a local business owner. “With the electrification legislation, we put an end to committed emissions in new construction. Beacon is setting a higher standard for new construction and major renovations. A standard that accelerates electrification, improves air quality, and saves homeowners and landlords lots of money in the process. Electrification of new construction also means halting the expansion of fossil-gas infrastructure, and continuing the expansion of electrical infrastructure, delivering renewable energy, which is all vital to helping the state achieve the goals set by the CLCPA. On top of all of the above, electrification is good business for developers: why would you bet on fossil fuels when you know they are going the way of asbestos and lead paint?”

“Speaking for myself as an architect and concerned citizen, I am enthusiastic to help the City of Beacon realize an electrified future,” said J.C. Calderón, Immediate Past President of the Board of Directors, AIA Westchester + Hudson Valley Chapter, and Founding Principal at Calderón Architecture & Design Studio P.C. “As a parent and a resident of Beacon, I applaud this effort to protect our climate, our families, and our wallets from fossil fuels.

“It is crucially important to pursue equitable and rapid electrification of buildings and to stop construction of new natural gas infrastructure if we are to meet CLCPA goals,” said Sergei Krasikov, Chair of the Beacon Conservation Advisory Committee.

“I am thrilled that the Beacon City Council has passed this law. Yet again, our beautiful city of Beacon is a “beacon” of progress. This legislation will put us on a path to a healthier, more sustainable future for generations to come. I know that we will be able to look at this environmental success in Beacon and be able to use it as an example for what we can accomplish countywide,” said Yvette Valdés Smith, Minority Leader, Dutchess County Legislator, District 16.

“I appreciate the work of BCAN, my fellow Councilmembers and the Conservation Advisory Committee for this future thinking legislation that addresses the climate crisis head on to restrict and prohibit the use of natural gas in Beacon,” said City Councilmember Wren Longno.

Press Contact: Phoebe Galt [email protected]