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Community groups react to Eugene natural gas ban

(Billy Spotz/SBG)
(Billy Spotz/SBG)
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After Monday night's 5-3 vote banning the use of natural gas in new, low-rise residential construction, community groups around Eugene are reacting to the ordinance.

Conservation group Cascadia Wildlands says the ban was a long time coming and they're glad to move on to other issues.

"It's been under conversation for quite a while, and we had actually hoped this would happen last year," says Bethany Cotton, the conservation director with Cascadia. "We're excited to move onto the next steps to address our climate goals here in Eugene."

The Eugene City Council also held a vote on putting the ban on the May ballot for voters to decide, but councilors shot it down five votes to three.

The majority of the pushback on the ban came from businesses and groups like the Eugene Chamber of Commerce.

"We believe there's enough opposition to this measure right now that this issue will be referred to the ballot by community members," said Brittany Quick-Warner, the CEO of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce. "And it's going to put us into a situation as a community where, instead of moving forward on climate conversations that we desperately need to be having, we are stuck fighting about an issue that really has a pretty small impact on our local climate to begin with."

Councilors Emily Semple and Mike Clark were predominant voices on either side of the ban.

"It felt time to get it done," Semple said. "It's the first step, these houses aren't even built yet, and we need to start. We have the Climate Recovery Ordinance, and we're behind [on that]."

Councilor Mike Clark believes that the ban could limit the ability to address the housing crisis in Eugene.

"Most building of new homes is done in the summer," Clark said. "We're in a housing crisis. It's my opinion we should be doing everything legally possible to help see more housing get built in our community, to help incentivize it."

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The ban is currently set to go into effect after June 30.

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