Gas Appliances and Smog: California's Hidden Air Pollution Problem

How state and regional air agencies can end appliance pollution in California with zero emissions standards and complimentary policies

Policy Brief
Report cover

Gas appliances in California homes and buildings generate four times as much lung-damaging nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution as the state's gas power plants, and roughly two thirds as much NOx as all of the state’s passenger cars. To meet federal air quality standards that protect health, air quality regulators in California must phase out the sale of gas appliances and implement equity-centered implementation plans for transitioning homes to electric alternatives like heat pumps — which produce no onsite air pollution.

That’s the conclusion of Gas Appliances and Smog: California’s Hidden Air Pollution Problem, released today by SPUR, RMI, and the Sierra Club. The report comes as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) prepares to vote on a first-in-the-nation standard that would end the sale of gas furnaces and water heaters by 2030.

The report outlines policymaking underway by state air regulators at CARB, as well as regional air regulators in the Bay Area and L.A. Basin, to phase out the sale and installation of gas appliances as part of air regulators’ strategies for meeting federal air quality standards for ozone. NOx pollution from gas appliances contributes to the formation of ozone and fine particulate matter major components of smog.