California City Bans New Gas Stations—Will Others Follow?

In its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, the city of Petaluma, California in Sonoma County, approximately 39 miles north of San Francisco, has approved a ban on the new construction of gas stations. The first city in the United States to prohibit the expansion of filling stations, specifically those associated with large retail chains, is also banning the addition of new pumps at existing ones.

According to a report by KTVU FOX 2, the city council voted unanimously to pass the measure, which enforces the ban immediately. Free of opposition, the ordinance is said to be widely accepted and supported by residents. The city of Petaluma has a population of 61,000 people across 14.5 square miles, and it’s currently home to 16 gas stations, not counting an earlier approval of an incoming station, most likely the final.

The city’s rigorous efforts toward minimizing fossil fuel dependency aim to make it easy for current fuel stations to add electric vehicle chargers. Besides recharging points, this includes facilitating the infrastructure of other alternative energy sources such as hydrogen. As part of its Climate Ready initiative, the city’s recent course of action to tackle pollution comes after it adopted a Climate Emergency Framework in January. The 59-page document includes policy and future planning to reach carbon neutrality in 2030.

One North Bay grassroots group leading the charge against new fossil fuel infrastructure in Sonoma County, the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations (CONG), has managed to block the opening of three new stations. It is now challenging a proposed Costco filling station in Novato.

Not everything is golden in the state of California. The transportation sector accounts for more than half of all carbon pollution, 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions, and 80 percent of smog formation pollution. Last September, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an executive order that all but bans sales of new fuel-burning cars, trucks, and SUVs in the state by 2035. Among the regions with the most toxic air quality in the U.S. are the Central Valley and communities within the Los Angeles Basin.

Whether other cities around the country follow the example set by Petaluma remains to be seen. However, given that more cities are adopting policies that support a sustainable future, it’s likely more places within the U.S. will usher in similar measures in the coming years.

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