New York (Oct. 12, 2023) — Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg LLP (RJLF) has filed suit on behalf of a coalition of businesses and workers challenging the New York State ban on gas appliances and infrastructure in most newly constructed buildings beginning Dec. 31, 2025. Plaintiffs are the Mulhern Gas Company; the New York Propane Gas Association; the National Propane Gas Association; the New York State Builders Association; the National Association of Homebuilders; the Plumbing Contractors Association of Long Island; Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association; Holmes Mechanical; the Master Plumbers Council of New York; IBEW Local 1049; Plumbers Local 200; IBEW Local 97; and TWU Local 101, which collectively represent tens of thousands of workers in New York. The suit seeks to declare the gas ban invalid and to block its enforcement, on the ground that federal energy law preempts or overrides state law. While more than 50 cities across the country previously have enacted gas bans, New York was the first state in the country to ban the use of gas equipment and infrastructure in most new buildings.
Millions of New Yorkers rely on gas for basic needs including heating, hot water and cooking — particularly in the coldest winter months. Requiring "all-electric" new buildings despite an already-strained electric grid could put the public's need for a reliable, resilient and affordable energy supply at risk.
A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently struck down a similar gas infrastructure ban in Berkeley, California. [California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, Case No. 21-16278 (9th Cir.)] RJLF represented the California Restaurant Association in that suit, which challenged Berkeley's comparable ban of natural gas infrastructure in new buildings. The Ninth Circuit held that Berkeley's ban on gas piping concerned the energy use of appliances covered by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and was therefore preempted.
"Our clients are strong supporters of the state's climate goals, but the ban puts our clients and their members at risk," said Sarah Jorgensen, counsel for plaintiffs. "A mandate banning gas now is not reasonable or affordable, when New York's grid is already overburdened. And regardless, New York must comply with federal law."
Courtland Reichman, counsel for plaintiffs and RJLF's managing partner, also noted that "a patchwork system for national energy policy is unworkable. Nationally uniform standards on energy use and energy efficiency are the best way to promote conservation goals while ensuring energy security, domestic supply and consumer choice."
The case is Mulhern Gas Co. v. Rodriguez in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.