In its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, the Californian city of Petaluma in Sonoma County, about 39 miles north of San Francisco, has proven a ban on building new gas stations. The first city in the United States to prohibit the expansion of gas stations, especially those of large retail chains, also prohibits the addition of new pumps to existing ones.
According to a report from KTVU FOX 2The city council voted unanimously to pass the measure that will immediately enforce the ban. Free from opposition, the ordinance should be widely accepted and supported by the residents. The city of Petaluma has a population of 61,000 people in 14.5 square kilometers and is currently home to 16 gas stations, with no previous inspection of an incoming station, most likely the final.
The city’s rigorous efforts to minimize its dependence on fossil fuels are aimed at making it easier for current gas stations to add electric vehicle chargers. In addition to charging stations, this also includes easing the infrastructure of other alternative energy sources such as hydrogen. As part of its Climate Ready initiative, the city recently took action to combat pollution after adopting a framework for climate emergencies in January. The 59-page document contains guidelines and future plans for achieving carbon neutrality in 2030.
A grassroots group in North Bay leading charges against new fossil fuel infrastructure in Sonoma County, the Coalition Against New Gas Stations (CONG), has managed to block the opening of three new stations. It is now a challenge for a planned Costco gas station in Novato.
All is not golden in the state of California. The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all carbon pollution, 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions, and 80 percent of smog pollution. Last September, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an ordinance nearly banning the sale of new fuel-burning cars, trucks, and SUVs in the state until 2035. The regions with the most toxic air quality in the United States include the Central Valley and communities in the Los Angeles Basin.
Whether other cities across the country will follow Petaluma’s lead remains to be seen. Given that more cities are taking action to support a sustainable future, more locations in the US are likely to take similar action in the years to come.