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Manchin sides with Republicans, signs on to bill to save gas stoves

By Sarah May on
 February 5, 2023

In the wake of a controversy that erupted last month over reports that the Biden administration was contemplating a ban on gas stoves in home kitchens, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has joined forces with Republican colleagues to co-sponsor a bill rejecting any such federal restrictions, as The Hill reports.

Manchin, together with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), introduced legislation that would stop the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from enacting rules prohibiting the use of gas cookers in American homes.

Heated controversy

The battle over gas stoves began to unfold in January amid reports suggesting that the CPSC was weighing the notion of banning them due to research pointing to health risks they allegedly pose, particularly to the respiratory health of children, as the New York Post noted at the time.

Richard Trumka Jr., commissioner of the CPSC was said to have declared the popular household appliance “a hidden hazard,” adding, “[a]ny option is on the table. Products that can't be made safe can be banned.”

Those in support of the sort of ban referenced by Trumka have, as the Daily Mail noted, cited studies such as one produced by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean energy advocacy group in Colorado, which claimed that roughly one out of every eight cases of asthma in American kids is due to pollutants put into the air by gas stoves.

As a result, gas stoves have become a point of contention among Democrats such as Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), who has called their emissions “a cumulative burden on Black Latino and low-income households” and energy industry lobbyists such as Mike McKenna, who have labeled talk of future bans “transparently political” kowtowing to environmentalist groups.

Messaging war ensues

After it was revealed that the CPSC decided in October that it would initiate a formal comment period on the purported risks of gas ranges later this year – joining numerous state and local governments that have acted in a similar fashion – backlash against the idea was swift and sure.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal blasted the entire concept and criticized the administration's enlistment of the CPSC “in the crusade to ban fossil fuels from the kitchen.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis also made headlines for his comments in opposition to the plan, referencing the invaluable role gas stoves played for residents of his state hard-hit by Hurricane Ian earlier in the year.

As word of the possible administration action continued to spread from coast to coast, eliciting outrage from wide swaths of the population, Trumka attempted to walk back his earlier statements somewhat, saying, “To be clear, CPSC isn't coming for anyone's gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products for Americans who CHOOSE to switch from gas to electric....”

Manchin unconvinced

Despite assurances from Trumka, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and a host of other prominent Democrats that concerns over a possible gas stove ban were wholly overblown by those with partisan motivations, Manchin was apparently unconvinced, as evidenced by his joint effort with Cruz to thwart such action.

Manchin declared in a statement last week, “The federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner, which is why Senator Cruz and I introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure Americans decide how to cook in their own homes.”

“I can tell you the last thing that would ever leave our house is the gas stove we cook on, and I will continue to fight any overreach by the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Manchin added.

Joining the Democrat lawmaker in his crusade, Cruz issued a statement of his own, saying, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission's proposed ban on gas stoves is the latest egregious scaremongering by the Far Left and their Biden administration allies. I am pleased to partner with Senator Manchin in this bipartisan effort to stop the federal government from issuing regulations that put the interests of the Green New Deal before the well-being of American families.”

Proposal set forth

The bill introduced by Manchin and Cruz is now known as the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, and its provisions would extend to any “gas range, gas stove, or household cooking gas appliance that meets the standard set forth in American National Standards Institute Z21.1/CSAZ21.1 or any successor standard.”

If passed, the measure would prevent CPSC from using federal monies to ban gas stoves or impose any regulations that would substantially increase their costs to the point where they become unaffordable for Americans.

Though it remains to be seen whether the bill from Manchin and Cruz will gain sufficient steam for eventual passage, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is among those already on board, according to the Hill.

“What has reached a boiling point is anger against the Biden administration's insanity of proposing to ban gas stoves,” Barrasso said. “It's astonishing.”