January 13, 2023

Gas Stoves

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that “[The US Consumer Product Safety Commission] says a ban on gas stoves is on the table amid rising concern about harmful indoor air pollutants emitted by the appliances… ‘This is a hidden hazard,’ Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, said in an interview. ‘Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.’” Bloomberg

“The White House on Wednesday asserted that President Joe Biden does not support a ban on gas stoves… earlier Wednesday, following the Bloomberg report, CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric clarified in a statement that he is ‘not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.’” CNN

See past issues

From the Left

The left notes the dangers from gas stoves, but argues that there are no plans to ban them nationwide or remove them from existing homes.

“While in recent years, some cities — including Berkeley, San Francisco, and New York City — have banned natural-gas hookups in new buildings over concerns about both greenhouse emissions and indoor-air quality, few at the federal level are arguing for such measures… Democrats in Congress who have issues with gas stoves have generally been pushing for new rules rather than bans: safety disclosures, and requirements about emission levels or ventilation that are designed to improve indoor air quality.”

Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

None of this is new, or a part of a nefarious plot. For years, studies have been revealing the harmful effects of gas stoves on both health and the climate, despite misinformation from the natural gas industry. Growing scientific and public health consensus around this fact has already spurred governmental action (and Republican pushback) at the municipal and countywide level. Berkeley, California, became the first U.S. city to ban gas hookups in newly constructed housing (not taking gas stoves from existing homes) in 2019, and now New York wants to be the first to do so at the state level…

“[The Biden administration] is refurbishing government buildings to go electric, and encouraging homeowners to switch out their gas stoves for electric models through Inflation Reduction Act incentives. Heck, a lot of red states are already there.”

Nitish Pahwa, Slate

“Leaping to a ban over other potentially effective and less coercive approaches, and doing so on the basis of relatively ambiguous data, feels like a stereotype of a certain kind of 21st-century progressivism: If we believe in science—and of course we do!—the federal government must institute a ban. Thankfully, this self-caricature was met with calm and graceful dismissiveness on the right. Ha, just kidding! Trumka’s remark set off a paroxysm of agitation among conservatives…  

“Fox News alone flooded the zone with pro-gas venting: An anguished restaurateur poured out his woes on Tucker Carlson’s show; a CPSC spokesperson’s limp deflection earned its own write-up; Fox Business carried a barely reworked press release on the topic from a very neutral observer, the American Gas Association; and, naturally, a story involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting flamed on Twitter was a must…

“The reflex to position gas stoves as the last redoubt of traditional American life, threatened by big government, is just as stereotypical of the contemporary American right as the impulse to instate a ban is of the American left.”

David A. Graham, The Atlantic

From the Right

The right opposes banning gas stoves, and argues that there really is an effort to ban them, at least in new buildings.

The right opposes banning gas stoves, and argues that there really is an effort to ban them, at least in new buildings.

“A member of the government body with regulatory control over gas stoves did actually suggest a ban. CNN reported it under the headline ‘A US federal agency is considering a ban on gas stoves, report says.’… After Trumka’s statement about a possible ban, the media was full of articles about the dangers of gas stoves. The Washington Post jumped on the bandwagon Tuesday with a story titled ‘There’s a secret pollution source in 40 million homes. The U.S. may try to ban it.’…

“But the most interesting part of this news cycle was what happened after the CPSC chairman made it clear yesterday that no such ban was going to happen. Suddenly, the media shifted from promoting the idea of a gas stove ban to ridiculing conservatives for even suggesting the idea that a ban was a possibility. So here’s that same Washington Post story after it was rewritten yesterday. The new headline which removes the word ‘ban’ is ‘U.S. agency examines secret pollution source in 40 million homes: Gas stoves.’…

“The same day the Post published another story titled ‘How the humble gas stove became the latest flash point in the culture wars.’… The carefully revised story is that the GOP had a freakout over nothing at all. I’m sure lots of people will come away believing that’s what happened but it’s just more media gaslighting.”

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“When a member of a federal commission says ‘any option is on the table’ and ‘products that can’t be made safe can be banned,’ you cannot say that ‘fears of a ban are unfounded.’ I’m sorry, there’s no way to make this not sound like a deliberate pun, but no, really, this is indeed gaslighting!”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Disconnecting existing stoves and hauling them off is probably years down the road. For now, liberals are banning new gas hookups in houses and apartments, and they are even trying to ban the sale of new gas stoves…

“The goal of many activists and politicians is to phase them out completely as part of a broader campaign of ‘electrification,’ which in turn is part of a broader campaign of ‘decarbonization’ and ‘zero emissions.’ Everyone who has used these words (electrification, decarbonization, and zero emissions) is, by necessity, talking about getting rid of gas stoves…

“As CNN reported in 2022: ‘San Francisco passed its own ban in 2020. New York City became the largest U.S. city to pass a version in 2021, with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) vowing to pass a statewide law that would ban natural gas by 2027.’ Just this week, Hochul proposed outlawing the sale of gas and oil heating equipment and banning gas hookups in new buildings starting in 2025.”

Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The CPSC commissioner is not wrong that gas stoves produce indoor air pollutants. Even if we didn’t have measurements, this would be obvious: Gas stoves burn gas, and combustion produces carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter and other unlovely byproducts you don’t want in your house. But missing from this analysis is a sense of proportion. Is this really the best way to address the risks, or might it be better to tell people to turn on the vent hood or open a window before firing up the stove? Could the problem be mitigated with tweaks to stove design? And just how bad is it, compared with other sources of indoor air pollution like, say, cooking itself?…

“Conservatives were right to push back against the idea of a ham-handed government mandate based on less-than-rock-solid evidence. But this shaded over into refusing to hear that indoor air quality matters — and into unfairly maligning electric ranges, which have some real disadvantages but are also better than gas at some tasks, like low simmers… Over time, induction is likely to replace gas stoves anyway… but instead [we now have] a political embarrassment, along with angry backlash from conservatives who now wouldn’t install one of those things if you gave it to them for free.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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