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After backlash, safety commission says gas stove ban unlikely

Studies compare the impact of emissions from gas ranges to second-hand cigarette smoke

An industry group said research on gas range emissions did not take real-life factors into account.
An industry group said research on gas range emissions did not take real-life factors into account. (Frank Rumpenhorst/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

After industry backlash and bipartisan condemnation, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric said on Wednesday his agency is not looking to ban gas stoves.

In a Jan. 9 interview with Bloomberg, Commissioner Richard Trumka, a Democrat, said the independent agency would consider a ban on gas stoves in order to address indoor air pollution, referring to it as a “hidden hazard.” However, in a statement acknowledging Trumka’s comments had received considerable attention, Hoehn-Saric, also a Democrat, said a ban is not forthcoming.

“Research indicates that emissions from gas stoves can be hazardous, and the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards,” Hoehn-Saric said. “But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.”

This spring, the CPSC is expected to solicit public comment for information on how to make the appliances safer. Gas stoves are estimated to be installed in at least 40 million U.S. residences.

The comments from Trumka, previously a staffer for the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, drew immediate pushback from lawmakers. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., said in a statement that any regulation would be “a recipe for disaster.”

“The federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner,” said Manchin. “If this is the greatest concern that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has for American consumers, I think we need to reevaluate the commission.”

House Energy and Commerce Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said it was the latest “in a long line of power grabs.”

“It is not about public safety,” said Rodgers. “It is about telling the American people the federal government knows best and will decide what kind of car they can drive, how they can heat their house, and now how they’re allowed to cook food for their families.”

Also on Wednesday, Republican Reps. Bill Huizenga of Michigan and Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia introduced legislation that would prohibit any federal agency from proposing, implementing or finalizing a rule that bans or restricts gas-powered stoves or cooktops.

“Americans should have the ability to choose the most affordable and most available way to cook food in their own home,” Huizenga said in a statement accompanying the draft bill. “It is absolutely ridiculous how out of control and out of touch the nanny state in Washington has become.”

While some treated the ban as imminent, Trumka had previously pushed for greater regulation of gas stoves with little success. In October, he called for the agency to direct staff to initiate rulemaking pertaining to gas stoves, but that proposed amendment to the agency’s fiscal 2023 operating plan did not receive support from any other commissioner. He then introduced a second amendment calling for staff to issue a request for information to receive public input.

Gas dangers

Studies have found that gas stoves emit significant levels of nitrogen oxide, fine particulate matter and other pollution that, without proper ventilation, can raise indoor concentrations to unsafe levels.

A study led by the environmental think tank RMI that was published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that gas stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases nationwide, a similar risk to exposure to secondhand smoke.

After the study was published, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-Va., led a letter to Hoehn-Saric encouraging the commission to consider additional regulations, including that gas stoves be sold with range hoods that meet mandatory performance standards.

The American Gas Association has pushed back against the conclusions of this study, arguing the researchers ignored relevant literature and examples of real-life appliance usage, and said the CPSC and other regulators should not rely on the data.

“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,” the AGA said in a statement.

Debates over the future of gas stoves and other gas-powered appliances have raged on the state and local levels in recent years. Some liberal jurisdictions have instituted bans on new natural gas hookups as part of a wider push towards electrification in response to climate change. However, in response many Republican-led states have instituted their own laws that prohibit localities from implementing such regulations.

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