The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering banning Americans from having gas stoves.
Roughly 40% of American homes have gas stoves, which emit nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide as well as fine particulate matter at what are deemed unsafe levels by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization. A study released in January 2022 argued that over 20 years, “annual methane emissions from all gas stoves in U.S. homes have a climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500 000 cars.”
“This is a hidden hazard,” Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) who was nominated by President Biden, told Bloomberg News. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
“There is about 50 years of health studies showing that gas stoves are bad for our health, and the strongest evidence is on children and children’s asthma,” Brady Seals, a manager in RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings program echoed. “By having a gas connection, we are polluting the insides of our homes.”
In late December, a group of Democrats in the Senate and the House wrote an open letter to Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, urging restrictions on gas stoves such as requiring them “to be sold with range hoods that meet mandatory performance standards,” and “where feasible, issue mandatory performance standards for gas stoves that address steady-state-off leakage, including requiring automatic shut-off valves.”
The Democrats also made claims that gas stoves disproportionately affected non-white and low-income communities, contending, “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. Statistics show that Black, Latino, and low-income households are more likely to experience disproportionate air pollution, either from being more likely to be located near a waste incinerator or coal ash site, or living in smaller homes with poor ventilation, malfunctioning appliances, mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, lead dust, pests, and other maintenance deficiencies.”
But Karen Harbert, president of the American Gas Association, has countered, “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and EPA do not present gas ranges as a significant contributor to adverse air quality or health hazard in their technical or public information literature, guidance, or requirements. The most practical, realistic way to achieve a sustainable future where energy is clean, as well as safe, reliable and affordable, is to ensure it includes natural gas and the infrastructure that transports it.”
Mike McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist, echoed, “If the CPSC really wanted to do something about public health, it would ban cigarettes, or automobiles, long before it moved on to address stoves. It’s transparently political.”
The Biden administration’s hostility to natural gas was manifested again when it announced last fall it wanted to eliminate natural gas in federal buildings.