District residents face two crises of air quality right now: an emerging awareness that gas-burning appliances are creating significant air quality issues inside homes, and the broader air quality and temperature concerns in the environment heating up from mass consumption of fossil fuels. Today, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) introduced legislation aimed at taking on both issues.
The “Healthy Housing and Residential Electrification Amendment Act of 2022” takes on the urgent task to replace gas-burning water heaters, stoves, and heating systems with appliances that use electricity and do not create unhealthy air within the home while reducing each household’s addition of carbon into the atmosphere.
The bill would sync with significant investments in the federal Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this year by congress to ensure most households earning less than $80,000 would be able to make the switch at no cost to them, including covering costs for both the new appliance and installation. The bill would also implement a fee during permitting for installation of any new gas-burning appliances during major renovations to help incentivize more households to go electric. Finally, the bill would prevent the DC Housing Authority from installing fossil fuel-burning appliances and heating systems when undertaking certain redevelopments of public housing.
“It is rare to have a moment where making a change like this is the right call on so many fronts: with a massive infusion of federal dollars, we can ensure that residents can afford to have cleaner air in their homes, lower their household energy bills, and the upgrades to their homes will be much, much better for the environment overall,” said Councilmember Charles Allen, the bill’s author. “The bill includes a specific provision that would incorporate electrification for homes that are in our public housing stock as well. As we make this incredibly important transition, I want to be sure all homes have clean air and can save money on their monthly bills. It’s a priority in this legislation.”
Councilmember Allen worked closely with both Sierra Club DC and the Washington Interfaith Network in crafting the bill to ensure it sets aggressive goals with both clean air goals and racial equity in ensuring the bill can benefit low-income households as fast as possible.
Recent studies have confirmed that gas-burning appliances and heating systems contribute not only to climate change but also are tied to negative health outcomes, especially asthma. Within just a few minutes of using a gas-powered stove, a kitchen can reach dangerous levels of contaminants like nitrous dioxide.
The bill is co-introduced by Councilmembers Robert White, Janeese Lewis George, Trayon White, Brooke Pinto, Mary Cheh, and Brianne Nadeau.