The American people have reacted very negatively to potential federal regulations targeting natural gas stoves in favor of electric versions. But beyond regulations, there are also anti-gas stove subsidies in the misleadingly-named Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the big climate change bill for which the Biden administration is celebrating its one-year anniversary. These federal subsidies could be every bit as damaging to consumer choice as the proposed regulations, and they need to be opposed just as vigorously.
Most notably, the IRA provides rebates of up to $840 to consumers for the purchase of a new electric stove, but nothing for the purchase of a gas version. At first blush, this might seem relatively harmless to those who prefer cooking with gas – after all, you are still free to forego the hefty handout and choose a new gas stove instead, though you will have to pay full price. However, most big stove manufacturers produce both versions, and one wonders how much longer they will offer gas stoves if the playing field continues to be tilted so heavily against them.
The IRA also has incentives to discourage the availability of natural gas. It is all part of the administration’s belief that weaning homeowners off natural gas and making us fully dependent on electricity will help address climate change. Never mind that natural gas costs less than a third that of electricity on a per unit energy basis. In pursuit of this agenda, the IRA includes grants to assist state and local governments in changing their building codes to restrict gas hookups in newly-constructed homes and apartments. There are also incentives for builders of federally subsidized housing to do the same.
Obviously, you cannot use a gas stove if you don’t have access to natural gas, and under the IRA the administration is using the power of the purse to make the case for as many households as they can.
Beyond new construction, homeowners and renters who currently have natural gas are not necessarily off the hook. Over time, if local natural gas utilities cannot gain new customers, they may have to shut down, which would leave everyone in the service area without gas. This is very likely the long-term goal of the anti-natural gas activists and their allies in the administration.
Overall, the Biden administration’s war on gas stoves, and the larger war on all uses of natural gas, is being fought on many fronts. Thus, defenders of consumer freedom need to fight back on all of these fronts. Of course, this means opposing regulations targeting gas stoves, but it also means repealing the subsidies in the IRA that seek to do the same.