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Judge Removes Natural Gas Initiative from November Ballot

Rebecca White/SPR

A judge ruled that an initiative that would have barred the Spokane City Council from regulating natural gas and hydropower will not be allowed to appear on the November ballot.

The “Spokane Clean Energy Protection Act” ballot act was sparked in opposition to a draft sustainability plan that called for the city to phase out natural gas hook-ups. Its supporters and sponsors, a group of homebuilders and developers, argued the draft proposal would limit their ability to respond to region’s affordable housing crisis.

A call to the sponsor’s attorney was not immediately returned.

Environmental groups noted the sustainability plan was a draft and no city council members have proposed banning natural gas or using hydropower – which is also on the initiative. They argued the initiative would limit how future leaders could address climate change.

When the ballot initiative went before a judge Thursday, she found it interfered with already adopted policy – and was an administrative, not an electoral issue.

Amanda Parrish – a member of one of the non-profits formed to oppose the initiative and the executive director of the Land’s Council, praised the ruling.

“We really need to make a coordinated effort to reduce greenhouse gases, and we need all options to be on the table. And so, I'm happy that we have not taken away one of our options, which is the potential regulations of natural gas - which is a source of greenhouse gas emissions. So - I think it's a win for our climate future, and future generations in the inland northwest."