Two cheers for the gas stove protections in FY 2024 spending bill

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There is a provision in the recently-passed appropriations bill prohibiting any federal funds from being used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to “ban gas stoves as a class of products.” While a helpful step, much more will be needed to preserve consumer choice in stoves against federal interference.

Keep in mind that CPSC isn’t the half of it. Gas stoves have gotten swept up in the Biden administration’s “whole of government” climate change agenda. The idea that Americans must transition to electric stoves in order to help save the planet, however nutty, is team Biden’s working assumption right now, and every corner of the federal bureaucracy with a role is contributing towards that end. 

For example, last year the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed an efficiency standard for stoves that was a thinly-veiled assault on gas versions in favor of electric ones. And while the agency has backtracked and is now considering a less stringent proposal, continued vigilance is still needed. Indeed, H.R. 1640, the “Save Our Gas Stoves Act,” would block any DOE gas stove restriction rule and remains a good idea. The federal government is also supporting local restrictions on natural gas hookups and providing federal funding from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act for subsidized housing that foregoes natural gas. Needless to say, you can’t use a gas stove if you don’t have gas available in your home or apartment, and the administration is fully pursuing this avenue of attack.  

Further upstream, the federal crackdown on new natural gas pipeline approvals threatens long-term supplies in several markets. The list goes on. 

In addition, it isn’t certain that the provision in the bill would stop CPSC given that there are things the agency could do short of an explicit ban on gas stoves. Last year, CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr. made the mistake of admitting that a ban on gas stoves was “a real possibility,” sparking a powerful public backlash and strong denials from the administration that any such ban was in the works. Yet Trumka is still on the job, and CPSC’s investigation into gas stoves has not been abandoned. The agency may still take future action, but doubtless would cast it in terms of new safety requirements and not an outright ban. In reality, costly-enough safety requirements would serve as a de facto ban on gas stoves for many consumers, but doing so may well survive any legal challenges.

The good news is that federal interference with gas stoves continues to be wildly unpopular with the American people. That is why it is critical to shine a light on all such federal measures, especially the under-the-radar ones. The appropriations language reflects public sentiment and is a good contribution, but the fight to save the blue flame is far from over.