Brookline overwhelmingly passes bylaw to ban use of oil & gas in new buildings

BROOKLINE, Mass. — On Wednesday night Brookline voted to become the first town in Massachusetts to ban the use of fossil fuels in new buildings. A new bylaw will push residents and businesses away from oil and gas.

With almost no opposition, the town of Brookline overwhelmingly voted to ban oil and gas piping from most future construction projects.

"We have got to cut emissions dramatically, which means we've got to cut emissions from our buildings," said State Rep. Tommy Vitolo of the 15th Norfolk District.

Under the town's bylaw, new buildings will now be required to use electricity for heat, hot water and appliances.

"I'm very concerned about the future for my children," said Lisa Cunningham, a town meeting member and one of the 207 who voted to support Article 21.

Brookline has set goal to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Supporters of the new bylaw say electric buildings are healthier, cost about the same and can operate right away with zero emissions, if consumers use renewable energy.

"We don't feel we're taking the choice away," Cunningham said when asked if the bylaw removes the choice from consumers. “We feel we're actually giving the consumer a better choice."

Related: Brookline Police arrest 21-year-old in connection to fatal park stabbing

"I think it's progress," said Dirk Hackbargh of Brookline. "It's a tradeoff, I think, because electricity is made somewhere, right? If it's not solar or environmentally friendly, it's just [moving] the pollution from one location to another."

"We have to start proactively doing something to help the environment," said Gabby Fillion of Brookline. "I think it's one step at a time. Someone has to be the first, so why not us?"

One business not excited about Brookline's move is National Grid, which provides natural gas to Brookline.

On Wednesday a spokesperson said in a statement:

We disagree that the imperative to decarbonize the heating sector should be framed as an absolute prohibition on the continued use of natural gas in the short term. As we have seen from our experience, there are thousands of customers who want to select the option of natural gas and the benefits it provides.

The bylaw still needs to be approved by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.