Should new gas stations be built in the Bay Area? More Sonoma County cities are considering bans

ByCornell W. Barnard via KGO logo
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
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The proposals come as cities adopt climate change initiatives which include moving away from fossil fuels. But not everyone is ready for it.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two cities in Sonoma County could join several other communities which have banned the construction of new gas stations in the region. The proposals come as cities adopt climate change initiatives which include moving away from fossil fuels. But not everyone is ready for it.

"We don't think the 2020s are a time to be building new gas stations," said Woody Hastings.

Hastings is saying no to more gas stations in Sonoma County. His grassroots organization, the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations, or CONGAS has rallied and protested for years to prevent cities from allowing them to be built and preventing existing stations from expanding the number of pumps.

"You've passed climate emergency resolutions, how about you recognize that and stop permitting the expansion of fossil fuel gas stations," Hastings said.

RELATED: California leads the way in zero-emission transportation, but there are still challenges to overcome

At last count, there are about 140 gas stations in Sonoma County. Petaluma, Sebastopol, Cotati and Rohnert Park have already adopted bans on new construction. Santa Rosa and Windsor will consider bans this month.

Windsor Mayor Sam Salmon is often seen riding his bike around town, so he supports the ban on new gas stations.

"There's been no new demand for gas stations, in Windsor we have four, seems to be serving the community. We're not trying to penalize anyone, we're trying to take steps to preserve what we have on this earth," Salmon said.

Salmon says more gas stations don't make sense when California is trying to move toward electric vehicles. Governor Newsom has announced all new cars and trucks sold in the state must be zero emission by 2035.

Many drivers like the idea.

"In terms of new gas stations, we're fine with how many we have now," said Michael Collins visiting from Santa Cruz.

Not everyone agrees.

"There's drawbacks to electric vehicles like making the batteries, it takes twice as much power to create," said Karin Berry from Cazadero.

Trade associations like the Western States Petroleum Association criticized the bans, saying in a statement:

"Making it harder to find a commodity we need everyday, generally means costs go up."

Advocates say they'll keep pushing for the gas station ban.

"In the North Bay we have been buffeted by wildfires, those are consequences of the climate crisis, we're doing more to respond and this is just one more," Hastings added.

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