- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2022

When a blue jurisdiction (state or local) obsesses about what kind of appliances you have, they have pretty much raised the white flag on their day job. They can’t or won’t address crime, education, homelessness etc., so they make decisions about whether you can have gas stoves or gas water heaters in your home — decisions that rightly belong to homebuyers, home builders and homeowners.

Whether it is to distract, to satisfy their urge to make decisions for others or to virtue signal, it is an acknowledgment that they have failed.

It brings us directly to the question of who should make decisions about your new house and what kinds of appliances are in it. What authority does the government have to restrict personal choice in this arena?

Recently, state and local governments have used their police power to impose restrictions for the public good, like mask mandates. As recognized in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, “there are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good.” While the “common good” is left undefined, it is most often centered around public safety, public health, morality, peace and quiet, law and order.

However, some states — like California and Massachusetts — have expanded the reach of police powers to things as different as aesthetics for telecom installations or betting on greyhound races. So, it is not a surprise that these states (and their local jurisdictions) are trying to use police powers to achieve climate change goals.

The tip of this particular spear is local bans on natural gas appliances. Where states or cities can’t lawfully ban natural gas connections, they cleverly (and often out of the public purview) alter the building codes to prohibit the service of natural gas.

In short, these municipalities — like Berkeley, California — are taking the ability of their citizens to choose what appliances they can have in their homes and businesses.

Like other municipalities enmeshed in this misguided effort, Berkeley sought to pass its own legislation because the federal government was not moving fast enough. Recognizing that they could not ban gas appliances without running afoul of federal and California state law, the city simply banned the gas piping needed for the appliances. While an interesting legal end run, it abuses the locality’s police powers.

Congress has wisely chosen not to pursue Team Biden’s aggressive climate change agenda. You’ll be shocked to learn that hasn’t slowed the bureaucracy at all. Last July, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urged “state and local officials to step up” because they “are the only ones who can adopt and implement smart and ambitious building codes.”

Federal bureaucrats are active participants in debunked scare tactics regarding indoor air quality and supposed linkages between your gas stove and global climate change.

When governments are reduced to making decisions about appliances that you can have in your home, when they show complete disregard for the energy bills people pay (natural gas is much cheaper than alternatives), and when the federal bureaucracy is in on the game, you have to think it is just a matter of time before they meet resistance from consumers and voters.

The questions remain. Why are local and state governments dictating what appliances citizens can buy? Why can’t we make those decisions for ourselves? At what point do citizens decide that enough is enough?

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