Malo: Crested Butte leads the way banning methane

At 8,900 feet, Crested Butte needs plenty of heat in the winter. Yet, its town council has voted to ban methane-gas hookups on any new construction or major remodels. It’s the first municipality in Colorado to do so.

To avoid any confusion, I should explain that what I refer to as methane gas is what most people call natural gas. It’s almost all methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and, despite the fact it’s a fossil fuel, there’s nothing natural about it. In its natural state, methane gas is in the ground. Suck it up out of the ground, and it’s something entirely different.

Those with a financial interest in methane gas are quick to point out it’s cheaper than electricity. Indeed, it is for now, but stay tuned. Projections are costs for methane gas will be 30% higher next winter because of the cuts in production during the pandemic and the reduced flow of gas from Russia during the Ukraine war.

Prices of methane gas fluctuate widely because they’re dependent on global-market conditions.

On the other hand, electricity prices are more stable because they’re determined by local demand and set by state utility commissions. Further, the growing use of heat pumps will drive the cost of electric heat down.

There’s no reason why Roaring Fork Valley communities can’t follow Crested Butte’s lead. Garfield County’s government is married to the oil-and-gas industry, but several cities and towns within the county have shown an interest in reducing the effects of climate change.

Contact your civic leaders, and ask them to enact an ordinance similar to Crested Butte’s.

Fred Malo Jr.