The Brookline Town Meeting voted 207-3 on Wednesday night to ban oil and gas heating infrastructure in new construction and major renovations in town, putting a stake in the ground for green energy supporters and a potential wrench in the works for developers.
The ban would still allow natural gas for cooking in new buildings and rehabs, according to WBUR, but backers of the idea hope to speed up the break from fossil fuels as a way to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.
“When you’re in a hole, you stop digging,” Brookline state Rep. Tommy Vitolo told the radio station. “We must reduce the carbon emissions in our buildings dramatically.”
Proponents believe constructing more energy-efficient buildings and using renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines can balance any pain that comes from the ban on new oil or gas lines in buildings.
National Grid, which supplies natural gas in Brookline, disagreed with the all-out ban, saying that putting a priority on renewables shouldn’t “be viewed as an absolute prohibition on the continued use of natural gas in the short term,” according to spokesperson Danielle Williamson. She also pointed out that National Grid’s pipe network could be used in the future to carry biogas from farms, landfills or human waste.
The vote makes Brookline the first in Massachusetts to adopt the ban, although WBUR said there are about 50 counties and communities — including Cambridge —around the country that have taken or plan to take similar measures. Not exactly a groundswell, but it could be a strong hint of things to come.