Signatures submitted for Washington initiative prohibiting restrictions on access to natural gas

Supporters of Washington Initiative 2066 submitted 431,063 signatures on July 3, 2024, for a ballot initiative to prohibit restrictions on natural gas access.

To qualify for the ballot, 324,516 of the signatures must be valid. If validated, Initiative 2066 would be the first Initiative to the People to qualify for the Washington ballot since 2018.

The initiative would state that “Every gas company or large combination utility shall provide natural gas to all persons and corporations in their service area or territory that demand, apply for, and are reasonably entitled to receive, natural gas under this section, even if other energy services or energy sources may be available,” and “A city or town that furnishes natural gas shall provide natural gas to those inhabitants that demand, apply for, and are reasonably entitled to receive, natural gas under this section, even if other energy services or energy sources may be available.”

The initiative was proposed by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). Executive Vice President Greg Lane is the primary sponsor of the initiative. Lane said, “It is very simple. If you have natural gas, this protects you to be able to keep natural gas in your home or in your business. And it protects the freedom of every single Washingtonian to have the clean energy of their choice.”

Other supporters of the initiative include the Washington Hospitality Association, Washington Realtors, and Associated General Contractors. The coalition’s ballot measure committee, Main Street Matters to Washington, raised $771,890 through June 26.

Let’s Go Washington, a conservative group that collected signatures for three initiatives already on the Nov. ballot, also supported the signature-gathering effort for this initiative.

Caitlin Krenn, climate and clean energy director for Washington Conservation Action, said, “I-2066 would take away communities’ choice, jeopardize rebate programs that help families and small business owners afford building upgrades, repeal common-sense measures that make homes and workplaces more energy efficient and healthy, and erode clean air protections.”

The initiative seeks to repeal changes made to state law by House Bill 1589, passed by the state legislature in March 2024. The bill requires utilities to develop a scenario plan demonstrating the costs of electrification to submit to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) in 2027 as the UTC creates plans for regulations on electric and natural gas consumption consistent with the state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals.

Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility with more than 1.2 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers, said it is “deeply concerned about the misinformation that continues to be spread about natural gas,” and that “There is no ban on natural gas. PSE has an obligation to serve any customer who wants natural gas.”

If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, it will join three other initiatives sponsored by Let’s Go Washington:

Initiative 2109 would repeal the capital gains excise tax on individuals’ long-term capital assets with capital gains over $250,000.

Initiative 2117 would prohibit carbon tax credit trading and repeal provisions of the 2021 Washington Climate Commitment Act (CCA), a state law that provided for a cap-and-invest program intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 95% by 2050.

Initiative 2124 would allow employees and self-employed individuals to opt out of the state’s long-term services and supports trust health care program, known as WA Cares.

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