In December 2022, a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which strives to protect the public from the dangers of US products, announced their possible plans to regulate household air pollution caused by gas stoves. However, on Monday, Jan. 9, Democratic Commissioner Richard L. Trumka Jr. — also from the CPSC — sparked controversy within the government by stating the possibility of banning gas stoves as a whole.
Despite the agency’s efforts to renounce Trumka’s claim in an effort to alleviate controversy, various Republican lawmakers began accusing the CPSC of taking household stoves from tens of millions of families across the country. The CPSC, however, maintains that they will not revoke stoves from people, and that a future ban would only block the creation or purchase of new gas appliances.
This statement, however, failed to stop the inevitable public outcry: Texas representative Ronny Jackson went as far as tweeting, “‘If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands. COME AND TAKE IT!!’” Jackson and other representatives have since encouraged the public to sign a petition to “stop Biden from banning our stoves,” and even denounced First Lady Jill Biden for cooking on a gas lit stove in a photograph.
More than one-third of United States households — which amounts to roughly 40 million homes — rely on natural gas to cook. So, regulation of any sort would require a significant change in millions of lives. Despite this, scientists increasingly urge consumers to transition to electric and induction cooktops.
A 2022 Stanford University study measured emissions from 53 California homes, and concluded that gas stoves in the US alone emit levels of methane — a damaging greenhouse gas — similar to the amount released from 500,000 gas-powered cars for a year of driving. Scientists discovered that even when not in use, these stoves leak harmful pollution into the air regularly. Robert Jackson, a climate scientist at Stanford, stated, “I don’t want to breathe the pollution that comes from gas combustion. In fact, I think people will look back and wonder why millions of us chose to.” He further reasoned, “We don’t stand over the tailpipe of our car breathing in.”
Another peer-reviewed study published in December 2022 announced that around 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases nationwide are directly caused by gas stove emissions.
People sweep indoor air pollution under the rug continuously, but despite their concerns, The Clean Air Act prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from actively regulating sources other than those they have specifically disclosed, including power plants, automobiles, and certain industrial facilities. Thus, gas stove regulation is a rising debate in the US, and although the government claims a ban is not currently on the table, residents can expect the proposition to return in the future.
(Sources: Politico, Washington Post)