When the U.S. Senate took a symbolic step toward blocking the Biden administration’s new efficiency rules on gas furnaces, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was one of three Democrats to side with the GOP and pass the resolution.

But in 2021, without the prospect of a tough reelection fight looming, Casey voted against a measure protecting consumer choice and gas appliances.

On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed  S.J. Res. 58, in a bipartisan 50-45 vote. The resolution declares Congress’ opposition to new Biden administration regulations that would effectively ban non-condensing gas furnace models.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who led the opposition against the new regulations in the Senate, said that under this rule, “families would be forced to spend thousands of dollars to change their furnaces. This rule was proposed and finalized by the Biden administration’s Department of Energy as part of a broader, radical campaign against fossil fuels, clean natural gas, and other sources of energy critical to the American economy.”

Cruz’s effort was backed by Casey, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Both Casey and Brown are facing tough reelection battles, and Manchin has announced he’s not seeking reelection.

The buzz among political insiders is the vote could help Casey in gas-rich Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer.

“Well, you sure can tell it’s an election year, huh?” quipped Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association President and CEO David Taylor.

Casey’s GOP opponent, Dave McCormick, is an ardent proponent of natural gas production and use.

“This particular vote kind of positions him as more moderate on this particular issue,” Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College told DVJournal. “I think it’s pretty reasonable to understand why he might have voted for this.”

But Kenny Stein with the Institute for Energy Research scoffed at the notion that Casey and Brown are moderates on the issue.

“They know they can vote for this without worrying about the consequences of it,” he told DVJournal. “If this had a chance…they’d have to answer to the environmental left who would come after them for voting for this.”

Casey’s voting record appears to bolster Stein’s claim.

When Republicans tried to put an amendment blocking bans on gas appliances in the 2021 infrastructure bill, Casey helped his fellow Democrats defeat it. Earlier that year, Casey also voted against the Keystone XL pipeline project that President Joe Biden killed his first day in office.

But this year, with McCormick hitting him hard on energy issues, Casey broke with Biden on his “pause” on new LNG exports.

“While the immediate impacts on Pennsylvania remain to be seen, we have concerns about the long-term impacts that this pause will have on the thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry,” he said in a joint statement with Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.)

Green activists who support Casey also support the new rules for gas furnaces. They argue the new standards will make sure that people have access to more efficient finances, along with saving the environment. They claim that no one will be forced to get a new furnace but help renters “stuck paying the energy bills” and lower-income homeowners.

That may not be the case, industry experts say. The proposed regulation could force Americans to shell out more of their hard-earned money on expensive home upgrades and utilities. That would include replacing metal pipes used in most generators with PVC venting pipes for intake and exhaust pipes for high efficient generators.

Most homes use furnaces that turn 80 percent of fuel into heat. Under the Biden efficiency rules, residents could eventually be forced to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to replace gas furnaces or switch to electric furnaces or heat pumps if their furnaces break down.

Those regulations could take people by surprise in a few years. “Some older models are grandfathered in for a while, but five or 10 years later, you’re saying, ‘Why is it so expensive to replace my heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system?’ and it’s these types of rules,” said Stein.

The American Gas Association told Fox News the proposed rules would remove between 40 to 60 percent of residential furnaces off the market. That would force homeowners to switch to electric furnaces or heat pumps.

Those devices wouldn’t make sense for states like Pennsylvania. Heat pumps are especially inefficient in frigid temperatures, according to HVAC maker Carrier. Electric furnaces have similar cold weather inefficiency problems resulting in higher utility bills.

The regulation changes could cause major damage to the Keystone State economy if Americans are forced to electrify. Natural gas production contributed more than $41 billion in economic activity in 2022. It’s also replaced coal as the state’s primary electricity generator while lowering carbon emissions by 46 percent.

“This is another attempt by the radical green activists to try to suppress domestic consumption of American natural gas. It’s a completely foolhardy thing to pursue and yet they seem intent on doing it,” said Taylor.

If the resolution makes it to Biden’s desk, the president has already threatened a veto.