5 myths about Joe Biden’s crackdown on gas stoves

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The Biden administration’s craziest idea yet? The assault on gas stoves. Second craziest? The lame attempts to deny it.

Now that two bills designed to stop Washington from meddling in our kitchens are about to come to a vote in the House of Representatives, it is a good time to dispel some myths about what is going on with stoves:

Myth: There is no federal effort underway to ban gas stoves.

Fact: While no single restriction in the works will categorically eliminate new gas stoves, the cumulative effect of them all would come very close in the years ahead.   

Not one but two of President Joe Biden’s regulatory agencies are now targeting gas stoves. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is conducting an investigation into their safety, while the Department of Energy is pursuing first-ever efficiency regulations. Both agencies are tailoring their actions to strangle gas stoves in red tape as part of the administration’s war on fossil fuel production and use. The likely result will be gas stoves that cost more and don’t work as well, tilting the balance in favor of electric versions.

But that’s not all. Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) support state and local efforts to change building codes to ban natural gas hookups in new construction. The IRA also has incentives to keep natural gas out of federally-subsidized housing. Needless to say, you can’t have a gas stove if you don’t have gas. There’s also federal handouts of up to $840 for the purchase of a new electric stove, but nothing for a new gas stove. One wonders how long manufacturers, many of whom make both gas and electric stoves, will continue offer gas models when they are at such a disadvantage. The list of anti-gas measures goes on and on. Biden and his environmentalist allies believe natural gas contributes to climate change, and they are using every corner of the federal bureaucracy to curtail its use.

Myth: Talk of gas stove bans is nothing more than Republicans playing politics.

Fact: Republicans weren’t saying anything about gas stoves until a Biden administration official told the media last January that a ban was “a real possibility.”

That official, Richard Trumka Jr., is a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. After a powerful public backlash against the idea, the White House denied that a ban was ever in the works and made clear that Trumka wasn’t representing the administration’s position. But Trumka was never asked to step down. Worse, his agency’s investigation into gas stoves is moving ahead and will very likely culminate in restrictions.

It is also worth noting that the debate over stoves is becoming less and less partisan, as more than a few Democrats are also fed up with government overreaching. Last March, an amendment to a House bill blocking these stove measures garnered 29 Democratic votes, and the two pending bills (H.R. 1615, the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, would stop Consumer Product Safety Commission restrictions, and H.R. 1640, the Save Our Gas Stoves Act, would curtail Department of Energy regulations) both have bipartisan support. In the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) protecting gas stoves.    

Myth:  New stove regulations will save consumers money.

Fact:  The idea that regulations targeting affordable natural gas will benefit consumers is about as Orwellian as it gets.

The Biden administration itself has admitted that natural gas is over three times cheaper than electricity on a per unit energy basis, so from a consumer standpoint going after gas appliances is exactly what not to do. And keep in mind, anyone who wants a supposedly eco-friendlier electric stove is always free to chose one, with or without government meddling. The only thing regulations do is push homeowners towards choices they would not have made on their own. That’s not helping them.

Myth: Gas stove restrictions will protect asthmatic children from dangerous emissions.

Fact: Gas stoves have been safety used for decades.

Some of the same folks angrily denying that gas stoves are being banned turn around and claim that they pose a dire risk to asthmatic children. Of course, anyone who really believes that should be pushing for a ban. In any event, the highly publicized recent study claiming gas stove/asthma link, which was conducted in close association with climate activist groups committed to ending the use of natural gas, is contradicted by many  others. It is also contradicted by real world evidence – gas stoves have been commonplace since the middle of the last century, and the idea that they have posed widespread health dangers that nobody noticed until recently is quite a stretch. 

The overhyped safety concerns serve a purpose for the administration. They provide a reason for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to go after gas stoves, as the agency has no authority do so on climate change grounds. By the same token, energy efficiency is the jurisdictionally-acceptable excuse for the Department of Energy to pursue its anti-gas stove climate agenda.

Myth: Underdog environmentalists are taking on industry Goliaths

Fact: The real Goliaths on this issue are the lavishly-funded green groups pushing the anti-gas agenda. 

Many of America’s wealthiest people have become environmental benefactors, and quite a few have latched onto the idea, however nutty, that weaning homeowners off natural gas is going to save the planet. As a result, the largest five environmental organizations pushing the anti-gas agenda have a cumulative $1.48 billion dollar annual budget, and there are many more also weighing in. Granted, gas utilities and stove manufacturers are fighting back, but with a fraction of the resources. In truth, last January’s grassroots backlash against gas stove restrictions is the only reason the green billionaires haven’t already won.     

That’s five myths, but here is a sixth for anyone worried about climate change:

Myth: Switching from gas to electric stoves will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fact: The war on gas stoves won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions and may increase them.

Stoves use so little energy overall – less than 4 percent of the average household’s energy budget – that switching from one energy source to another would make little difference. An analysis conducted by Dr. Kevin Dayaratna of the Heritage Foundation finds that, even if one accepts all of the Department of Energy’s assumptions, its proposed rule would reduce future temperatures by an  undetectable 0.0004 degrees C by 2050. Further, it is far from clear that electrification even reduces greenhouse gas emissions, as the regulators assume.

Yes, natural gas combustion releases carbon dioxide, but that is true whether done directly in your home or at the local power plant that makes the electricity sent to you. Nearly 60 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from natural gas and coal, and the process of generating and transmitting it is less efficient and thus higher emitting than the direct use of natural gas in a home appliance.