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Biden Administration considers ban on gas stoves

By Sarah May
|
January 10, 2023

The Biden administration, through its Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is contemplating a ban on gas stoves as the result of recent studies suggesting a link between their use and respiratory conditions such as asthma, as the New York Post reports.

CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. declared the popular household appliance to be “a hidden hazard” and confirmed that “[a]ny option is on the table. Products that can't be made safe can be banned.”

Studies cite gas stove risks

As the Daily Mail reports, several recent studies have purported to draw a straight line between the use of gas stoves in homes and significant health risks, particularly those impacting breathing.

Research from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean energy advocacy group in Colorado, claimed that approximately one in every eight cases of asthma in American children is caused by pollutants put into the air by gas stoves.

Referencing output of toxins including benzene and nitrogen dioxide from gas cooking appliances in the home, the scientists behind the report recommended that those living in homes with gas stoves – roughly 35% in the U.S. – should take steps to convert to electric versions.

Brady Seals, a co-author of the study stated, “There is about 50 years of health studies showing that gas stoves are bad for our health, and the strongest evidence is on children and children's asthma. By having a gas connection, we are polluting the insides of our homes.”

According to those advocating for a ban on gas stoves, the appliances are known to emit toxic substances even when not in use, such as nitrogen dioxide, methane, the aforementioned benzene, as well as hexane.

Comment period to open

In response to the growing body of research arguing against the use of gas stoves, particularly in residential environments, some legislators have asked the CPSC to deliberate on the possibility of adding warning labels, emission standards, and range hood requirements to the regulations applicable to gas stove manufacturers.

As the Mail noted, two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) and Don Beyer (VA) called for the commission to act on the issue of gas stoves, calling the pollutants they release “a cumulative burden on Black, Latino and low-income households that disproportionately experience air pollution.”

To that end, the CPSC has indicated that it will indeed initiate a comment period on the supposed risks of gas ranges later this year, joining a number of state and local governments that have begun an effort to limit the use of natural gas.

Critics fire back

Companies in the business of manufacturing gas stoves, however, have taken issue with the assertions made by this and other studies, with Jill Notini, vice president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers pointing out that all types of cooking are known to result in potentially harmful emissions.

“Ventilation is really where this discussion should be rather than banning one particular type of technology,” Notini said, as the Mail noted.

With some suspecting that action on gas stoves has more to do with environmentalist demands to curtail the use of fossil fuels than anything else, the American Gas Association also stepped in to cast doubts on the type of research cited by the CPSC and some lawmakers in floating this type of ban.

“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and EPA do not present gas ranges as a significant contributor to adverse air quality or health hazard in their technical or public information literature, guidance, or requirements,” asserted Karen Harbert, president of the organization.

Energy industry lobbyist Mike McKenna declared any attempt to ban gas stoves to be another example of egregious federal overreach on behalf of environmental activists, saying, “If the CPSC really wanted to do something about public health, it would ban cigarettes or automobiles” and added that the move is “transparently political.”

Clarification attempted

In the wake of news reporting on the CPSC's potential action, including a Wall Street Journal editorial slamming what it called the enlistment of the agency “in the crusade to ban fossil fuels from the kitchen” and critical online comments from Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), Trumka Jr. attempted to swiftly tamp down the controversy, as the New York Post noted separately.

“To be clear, CPSC isn't coming for anyone's gas stoves,” Trumka wrote. “Regulations apply to new products for Americans who CHOOSE to switch from gas to electric, there is support available – Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act which includes a $840 rebate.”

Perhaps still not convinced that the agency's intentions are as innocuous as Trumka claims, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted reports of possible action, saying during a Tuesday press conference, “You see, the Biden administration wants to nix gas stoves. Are you kidding me?” Then, referencing the invaluable role the appliances played for many when Hurricane Ian hit his state in September, he added succinctly, “I want gas stoves.”