Southern California becomes the first U.S. state to pass law requiring electrification of water heaters and boilers

Climate and environmental activists on Friday applauded the passage of a new rule by a Southern California regulator. Supporters say the order will dramatically reduce emissions from more than a million water heaters and boilers by mandating a wholesale switch from gas-powered to electric appliances.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has adopted amended Rule 1146.2, which requires smaller space heaters and boilers in newly constructed buildings to meet zero-emission limits starting in 2026. Existing buildings have until 2033 to comply. The new rule follows another nation-first action by the SCAQMD adopted last year requiring zero-emission standards for commercial furnaces.

“We're trying to figure out how to transform the industry and drive the right kinds of investments … that prioritize low- and zero-emission technologies,” said Evan Gillespie, a partner at Los Angeles-based Industrious Labs, which co-sponsored the bill with climate and environmental justice group Earthjustice.

According to Earthjustice:

The South Coast Air Basin, which includes Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, has some of the worst air quality in the country. To bring the region's dangerously polluted air into compliance with state and federal laws, the air district is tasked with reducing harmful emissions from all major pollution sources. Although less visible than emissions-belching pollution sources like refineries and trucks, fossil fuel-fired boilers and water heaters are a significant source of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) and deadly particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the region.

“When it comes to our industrial sector, we don’t have to boil the planet to boil water,” said Adrian Martinez, deputy lead attorney for Earthjustice’s Right To Zero campaign.. “With this critical rule, Southern California will replace over one million gasoline-powered devices with zero-emission technology.”

“This is an important step forward in our region’s fight to clean the air for over 17 million people and invest in zero-emission solutions,” Martinez added.If Southern California can step up and do this, the rest of the nation can, too.”

Anna Harden

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