In the face of a growing interest among local governments in curbing natural gas use in new buildings as a climate mitigation move, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law a statute that protects gas as an alternative in building construction.

The building permits law (HB 2686), backed by the state’s largest gas-only distribution utility, Southwest Gas Co., effectively prohibits local governments from attempting to mitigate climate change by targeting specific energy sources. Major cities including Phoenix and Tucson opposed the measure, contending it adds to a growing list of state edicts that stifle actions by local elected officials.

HB 2686 states that municipalities may not deny permit applications based on the utility provider proposed to serve the project. The law applies to all cities, towns and counties in the state.

Bans on natural gas in new building construction have been popping up in jurisdictions in California, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

For Southwest Gas, local restrictions against gas in new construction represent an existential threat. More than half of the Las Vegas-based utility’s two million customers are in Arizona.