(Farm and Dairy) – A new law in Ohio prohibits local governments from banning the use of natural gas and encourages the use of propane.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 201 into law July 1. Ohio joins more than a dozen states that enacted similar legislation this year.

The move is in response to some large cities, mostly on the West Coast, banning natural gas hookups in new buildings as a way to fight air pollution and mitigate the effects of climate change.

There are no cities in Ohio with such a ban, and there is no indication that any cities or townships were considering such an action. Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, who sponsored the legislation, told Farm and Dairy in March when the legislation was introduced, that he thought it best to address the issues before it became an issue. 

He did not want to eliminate choices for consumers. If someone does not want natural gas coming to their house, “just take the meter out,” Stephens said.

The bill was backed by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Oil and Gas Association and others in the oil and gas industry. Environmental groups like the Ohio Environmental Council, Nature Conservancy and Natural Resources Defense Council were opposed, as were local government groups like the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Ohio Municipal League. 

The law spells out an Ohio citizen’s right to obtain natural gas or propane if they want it and bans any local government from limiting or prohibiting access to natural gas or propane. It also makes it state policy to increase the use of the state’s “indigenous energy resources,” promote the availability of natural gas services and encourage the use of propane.

“Here in Ohio, we want to promote a fair market for all Ohioans, consumers, to have energy options that work best for them – this legislation helps make that a reality,” said Stephens, in a statement released when the bill was signed. “With this bill, I’m ensuring my constituents, all Ohioans and businesses have accessibility within their communities to the abundancy of natural gas that our great state has preserved.”

The legislation goes into effect at the end of September.