Petaluma Becomes First American City To Ban New Gas Pump, Station Construction

The Sonoma County city of Petaluma just this week became the first city in the United States to ban the construction of new gas pumps and stations.

The push to ban new stations in Petaluma and through proposed local legislation in other Californian cities started in September 2020 when Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order to phase out the sale of all new gas powered vehicles in California by 2035. Despite an overall negative response from Californians, many lawmakers pursued local laws to add more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and other similar ordinances. At the state level, this has included bills that would ban fracking and other oil and gas extraction methods by 2027. But at the local level, this has included bills to stop new gas stations from being built.

Petaluma led the way among Californian cities, with the Petaluma City Council unanimously approving the bill that would stop new gas pump and station construction in favor of alternate fuel stations late last month. On Monday, the zoning rules were finalized, becoming official the very next day.

According to the new rules, while all 16 gas stations in the city of 60,000 people can continue to operate as normal, no new pumps may be built. Only EV charging plugs and other alternate fueling methods will be allowed in new construction and station expansion.

In addition to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, the new law was passed to reduce pollution and curb fossil fuel use. Over-saturation of gas stations in the city was also hinted at, with the law mentioning that every resident in the city is currently, at most, five minutes away from a station.

“An inventory of current and approved gas stations shows they are, based on proximity, adequate to serve existing and planned residents dependent upon internal combustion engines,” reads the new law. “Prohibiting new gas stations serves the public interest by preventing new sources of pollution that adversely impact environmental and human health.”

Reaction to the new law has been mixed.  While many local lawmakers have praised the new law, with many specifically noting that it would help the city become carbon neutral by 2030, more attacked the policy on Wednesday.

Concern over the new law

“An alarming trend is spreading across localities in California,” said the California Fuels & Convenience Alliance in a statement on Wednesday. “Various localities throughout the state have started down a misguided direction, banning new gas stations within city and county limits, through ordinance or moratorium. This single-minded approach will ultimately cause greater harm for communities than any potential benefit.

“Many of these proposals emerge from the belief that by reducing the availability of fueling sites, they will reduce the amount of fuel consumed. This assumption is naïve at best, or textbook NIMBYism at its worst. Despite California’s intended goal of phasing out combustion engines, the fact remains that a vast majority of Californians continue to drive gas-powered cars. These Californians still require fueling sites within reasonable proximity of their homes or places of employment.”

“These bans also reduce vital competition within the community. Competition between businesses is imperative for both businesses themselves, and for consumers.”

Many in Petaluma also noted concern.

“We have a lot of tourists coming through here,” explained Petaluma store owner Richard Denton to the Globe. “This is wine country after all. And many com from out of California. They drive here.”

“Even if that state goes through with the gas car ban, we’re still going to need gas stations for at least some time in the future. That means new stations, or replacing broken pumps with new ones to meet demand. But what they are asking is way too much at once. Why not allow building more electric chargers, then wane down on gas pumps as demand falls?”

“They were just trying to make a statement rather than think of the public good here.”

Petaluma’s new law is expecting to influence other cities currently debating on passing similar laws in California this year.

Evan V. Symon is the Senior Editor for the California Globe. Prior to the Globe, he reported for the Pasadena Independent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and was head of the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. 

This article was originally published by the California Globe.

Comments

  1. This is a ploy by Newsom think alikes to make gasoline so expensive that people will gravitate to EV’s and think it was their idea. The only problem with this whole scenario is that once everyone is driving an EV the price of the fossil fuels needed to make all the electricity required to propel all of the EV’s will be so expensive that it will require another fuel tax in order for the government to produce the electricity. If we are having rolling blackouts now what will it be like with 20 million EV’s being topped off each night?

  2. Disgusted in California says

    And – just how in the name of Sam Hill is the electrical grid going to be able to handle if even 1/3 of the vehicles on the road are EV!!! IDIOTS!!! And – those who elected this fool that doesn’t understand 2nd grade science are idiots also!!!! You know – you get what ya vote for!!!! And – man did you ever vote WRONG!!!

  3. CA_is_a_liberal_hellhole says

    Stupid is as stupid does

  4. Shane Conway says

    If a city or any municipality no longer allows the sales of gasoline, they are no longer contributing to the highways fund. If there is no money coming out of their local sales, how are they going to justify asking for money to maintain their local streets and any state or federal highways within their town’s borders? The Federal and state departments of Commerce and Transportation should deny the city of Petaluma any money for the purposes of transportation. That means no more state and federal funding of bike lanes, subsidizing of carpools and no more funds for light rail and municipal busses.

  5. communist democrat policies always end in failure, and the failure is never their fault.

  6. Chris Renner says

    Hey Petaluma,

    Why do you stop with gas stations? Why not outlaw asphalt companies? Eliminate all plastics manufacturing. Lubricants should all be banned. Heck, only allow electricity if its generated by hydro or solar? Why don’t you forbid automobiles or trucks or anyone that uses plastic?

  7. The problem, and many others, would be easily solved if we could only figure out a way to outlaw assholes. The only problem with this approach, as far as I can see , is that the Legislature would have to vote on it.

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