Localities and natural gas: lawmakers weigh how much power city councils should have
Lawmakers are debating how much power your local government has to prohibit fossil fuels.
House Republicans are concerned that city councils in Richmond or Charlottesville might prohibit developers from connecting to natural gas. House Republican Leader Terry Kilgore wants to make sure local governments do not have the authority to say no to natural gas.
"And we just want to make sure that all our residential customers and manufacturers, especially manufacturers, have the ability to fire their equipment or whatever by natural gas because it's cheaper," he explains. "And we're always looking to make sure that we're competitive and I think natural gas makes us competitive."
Not so fast says Senator Chap Petersen, a Democrat from Fairfax City. He once served on the City Council for Fairfax City, and says this is a decision for local governments, not the General Assembly.
"Cities own their own streets in Virginia," Petersen says. "So if you're going to lay down a natural gas utility or electric or anything you've got to go through the local right-of-way. That's why it's their interest."
Kilgore and Petersen will be working out their differences on the legislation in a secret, closed-door conference committee.
This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.