It has been heartening to see the strong backlash to the recent announcement that the Biden administration’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was considering restrictions and possibly an outright ban on natural-gas stoves, which forced the CPSC to back off, though it is still moving ahead with fact-finding and other steps that could eventually lead to restrictions. The pushback showed that we Americans still don’t like being told by our government which products can and cannot be used in our homes. It also showed that we remain wary of costly climate-change policies, even when they come to us in disguise.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and thus burning it emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Although it emits considerably less CO2 than coal, that isn’t good enough for environmental activists and their many friends in the Biden administration. So, beginning on Inauguration Day with President Biden’s executive order on climate change, the administration has waged war on natural gas and other fossil fuels.
This war is being waged on many fronts. Everything from oil and natural-gas drilling on federal lands to the approval of new pipelines faces federal opposition, and the administration is even pressuring banks not to lend to oil and gas producers. There is no doubt that President Biden wants to end the use of natural gas as part of his goal of electrifying everything while at the same time shifting electricity generation to wind, solar, and other renewable sources.
The anti-natural-gas agenda is also reaching end users. While the federal government cannot easily do what many blue cities have done in placing limits on new residential and commercial natural-gas hookups, Washington can limit specific uses of gas with regulatory red tape. For example, the Department of Energy (DOE) sets energy-efficiency standards for appliances, and the agency’s proposed standards for natural-gas furnaces are so strict that they would raise the cost of such furnaces and make them incompatible with the venting systems in many homes. Thus, they would tilt the balance toward otherwise-costlier electric heat.
The same sort of misuse of regulatory power is now occurring with natural-gas stoves. It is difficult to believe the CPSC’s stated reasons going after them. The claimed correlation between natural-gas use and childhood asthma — largely based on a handful of very recent studies from organizations whose primary focus is climate change — is problematic, especially given the long track record of safe residential use of gas appliances and the hundreds of millions of Americans who grew up around them. Even the Environmental Protection Agency is on record as saying that gas stoves are safe.
In other words, absent the climate-policy backdrop, the attack on gas stoves wouldn’t be happening.
It is worth noting that, although the CPSC has backtracked on a gas-stove ban (at least for now), the DOE has also proposed a tough new energy-efficiency standard for stoves. Given the fanatical commitment of the climate activists both inside and outside of government, we ought to keep a close eye on this proposal to ensure that it doesn’t disproportionately target natural-gas stoves over electric versions.
Read the full article at National Review.