Boston City Council Backs Fossil Fuel Ban for New Buildings

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Boston took a major step Wednesday toward seeking state permission for a fossil fuel ban in its large new construction sector when a home rule petition won City Council approval.

Councilors voted 9-3 in favor of the measure, unveiled last month by Mayor Michelle Wu, that aims to transition new construction and major renovations in New England's largest city to all-electric heat and other forms of fossil fuel-free infrastructure.

The three dissenting votes were Councilors Frank Baker, Michael Flaherty and Erin Murphy, a city spokesperson said, and Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson did not attend the Wednesday meeting.

Wu still needs to sign the petition to send it to Beacon Hill for the Legislature's consideration. Wu announced plans to pursue the change in August. The next steps on the policy change for Boston are murky, intertwined with state regulatory review and decision-making yet to unfold in other Massachusetts cities and towns.

A clean energy law Gov. Charlie Baker signed last month creates a pilot program allowing 10 municipalities to limit the use of fossil fuels in their local building sectors, and 10 cities and towns already secured spots by filing home rule petitions before the measure got signed into law.

Boston could wind up in limbo awaiting state authorization to pursue its own fossil fuel restrictions separate from the pilot program, a change to the program's cap of 10 municipalities, or for a spot in the program to open up if any city or town further ahead in line drops out. The pilot applies to new construction and major renovations.

Three communities that sought to join the program -- Arlington, Newton and West Tisbury -- are at risk of failing to qualify for the program because of their low affordable housing stocks, a prerequisite that Boston would meet based on available data. - Chris Lisinski/SHNS | 9/14/22 5:35 PM

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