A federal agency charged with ensuring the safety of consumer products is weighing whether to ban natural gas stoves because of health risks.
A member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission emphasized that any new regulations can apply only to new appliances as the CPSC considers a ban to combat indoor pollution like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide linked to health issues such as respiratory problems and cancer.
“To be clear, CPSC isn’t coming for anyone’s gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products,” tweeted CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. “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.”
Mr. Trumka, a Biden appointee and son of the late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, was responding to criticism from Rep. Gary Palmer, Alabama Republican.
“Over 40 million American households use gas stoves,” Mr. Palmer tweeted. “This type of power should never have been given to unelected bureaucrats and it is time for it to end.”
Congressional Democrats have urged the commission to institute a ban, arguing in a letter last month to the CPSC that outlawing new sales could help reduce emissions and health risks, particularly in minority communities facing higher levels of pollution.
“In addition to the climate impacts, these emissions represent real health risks to millions of Americans,” the Democrats wrote. “These emissions can create a cumulative burden to households that are already more likely to face higher exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution.”
But not all Democrats are on board. Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia called it “a recipe for disaster” and fired a warning shot at the commission.
“The federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner,” the conservative Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, said in a statement. “I can tell you the last thing that would ever leave my house is the gas stove that we cook on. If this is the greatest concern that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has for American consumers, I think we need to reevaluate the commission.”
The CPSC plans to hold a public comment period about a potential ban later this winter. The five-member commission has three members who were appointed by Mr. Biden, one by former President Donald Trump and one vacancy.
Mr. Trumka did not specify whether a ban would apply to commercial units, such as in restaurants, an industry that relies on natural gas stovetops.
“There is this misconception that if you want to do fine-dining kind of cooking, it has to be done on gas,” he told Bloomberg news agency. “It’s a carefully manicured myth.”
As for critics who say CPSC may be overstepping its authority, Mr. Trumka said “products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
Industry representatives argue that the cost of kicking the cheap fossil fuel to the curb does not outweigh the small climate benefits, nor does it completely address the harmful byproducts caused by using all types of stove.
“This issue is not new. It’s part of this electrification movement across the country,” said Jill Notini, a vice president at the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
“From a consumer standpoint: yes, your product is safe,” she said of gas stoves. “When you’re cooking, there is pollutant, odor and heat that enters the air, so our best tip is use your range hood — if you have one — or turn on a ceiling fan. There’s a tremendous benefit with ventilation.”
Short of outright banning new gas ranges, Mr. Trumka said the commission could set emissions standards.
Groups like the World Health Organization, the Institute for Policy Integrity and the American Chemical Society have issued health warnings based on studies that they emit harmful pollutants into homes.
A study recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that upwards of 12% of U.S. childhood asthma cases were caused by the use of a natural gas stove.
Cities and states across the country have taken actions to curb natural gas usage in the name of combating climate change rather than health, such as California phasing out new natural gas-fired furnaces and water heaters by 2030.
New York City and Washington, D.C., have also taken steps to eventually ban the use of natural gas in new commercial and residential buildings.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Mr. Trumka‘s surname and that of his father.
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