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Natural gas meters outside residential townhomes. Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A growing number of cities are eliminating natural gas hookups in new homes and buildings as they work to reduce emissions and help meet climate targets.

The big picture: Fossil fuels burned in buildings contribute a tenth of overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While coal use continues to decline, natural gas use has held steady, making it a prime target in efforts to decarbonize.

Where it stands: At least 8 California cities have passed new policies this year to support all-electric new construction, and the trend is spreading beyond the state.

Context: Reducing GHG emissions from buildings to keep pace with climate goals will require increasing efficiency, transitioning from fossil fuel to electric appliances, and boosting supplies of renewable energy, according to a report published in August by scientists with the Department of Energy.

How it works: Accelerating the switch to all-electric buildings prevents locking in infrastructure that relies on dirtier fuel sources.

  • The cost savings of not installing new gas lines or separate furnaces and air conditioners are an added benefit. Building all-electric new houses in Oakland, Houston, Chicago and Providence is cheaper than incorporating gas, according to Rocky Mountain Institute research.

Yes, but: There are still barriers to widespread building electrification, from regulatory hurdles to limited support from utility programs.

  • As gas use declines, utilities will need new solutions to pay for gas grids that support a dwindling customer base. In many cases, outdated gas infrastructure will need to be decommissioned when it’s no longer needed.

The bottom line: Renewable electricity has become cheaper as it has expanded, helping the U.S. electricity system cut its emissions by 25% in the last 10 years. Transitioning from gas to fully electric power in buildings could further extend that progress.

Mike Henchen is a manager with Rocky Mountain Institute's building electrification team.

Go deeper

Updated 35 mins ago - Technology

Twitter sues Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.