Outcry over proposing a ban on gas appliances in the US
A federal agency under the Biden Administration walked back comments it made earlier in the week that it was considering a ban on gas stoves in new construction or as a replacement product, citing concerns that the appliances may cause a rise in respiratory illnesses.
Richard Trumka Jr, a U.S. Consumer Product Safety commissioner, told Bloomberg.com on Jan. 9 that they planned to take action due to the harmful pollutants they say are released into the air.
A firestorm of complaints opposing the proposed action caused commission Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric to issue a tweet on Wednesday, backtracking on Trumka’s statement. He said they have no plans to ban gas stoves and will ask the public later this spring for their input on gas stove emissions.
About 40% of U.S. households use gas appliances, including stoves, as well as high-end kitchens in world-renowned restaurants. They are also dependable during a power outage.
Groups like the American Chemical Society and New York University Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity have issued reports that gas stoves emit pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and fine matter at levels deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization.
Other studies also suggested that gas stoves emit pollutants that may cause asthma in children and cancer in adults.
Reports say Democratic lawmakers Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Don Beyer, first proposed a federal ban on the stoves when they sent a letter to the commission urging it to take action after a study found that gas stoves were linked to higher cases of asthma.
The American Gas Association issued a statement saying the study linking cooking with natural gas and asthma is not based on sound science.
“Regulators, like the Consumer Products Safety Commission, should rely on real data and science, not unsubstantiated claims of advocates,” the Jan. 10 statement read. “Attempts to generate consumer fears with baseless allegations to justify the banning of natural gas is a misguided agenda that will not improve the environment or the health of consumers and would saddle vulnerable populations with significant costs.”
Jon Sanders, director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life and research editor at the John Locke Foundation, agrees.
“Ostensibly, it is because a new study has found that gas stoves are correlated with a small percentage of childhood asthma cases,” Sanders told CJ. “Correlation is not causation, of course, nor has a single, novel study usually been the basis for a sweeping ban. Such a study should be greeted with skepticism, not a wide-eyed rush into prohibition and making people materially worse off.”
In Dec. 2021, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed H.B. 220, Choice of Energy/Add’l Provisions, which would have prevented cities and municipalities from banning some types of energy sources, like natural gas.
The negative outcry hasn’t stopped officials like Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul from announcing plans to ban gas stoves, hot water heaters, and oil furnaces in new homes and commercial construction by 2030.