The federal regulatory agency that spurred backlash by suggesting a ban on new gas stoves is taking action that could lead to further regulations against the popular home appliances.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved a request for information about health hazards posed by gas stove emissions and potential solutions from Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr., a Biden appointee who proposed banning the appliances before the agency walked back his comments.
The procedural step, which seeks feedback from scientists, consumers and the public, is part of the process that can lead to more regulations.
“The trust between CPSC and the American consumer exists because actions like the one we take today make clear that we only act in service to consumer safety,” Mr. Trumka said in a statement. “This Request for Information furthers our commitment to American consumers because step one in confronting a potential hazard is understanding its scope and the options for addressing it.”
Mr. Trumka and other proponents of switching from natural gas stoves to electric stoves point to studies suggesting that the methane-emitting appliances cause respiratory health conditions such as asthma, particularly among youths. Several of those studies have been criticized for faulty methodology, including the elimination of ventilation by sealing a room with plastic wrap.
Environmentalists say methane emissions from gas stoves contribute to climate change.
Republicans — and even some Democrats — on Capitol Hill have warned that they would intervene if the commission or the Department of Energy imposes gas stove regulations in the name of health or climate change.
Roughly 40% of U.S. households use gas stoves.
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, said he would use the Congressional Review Act to force votes in Congress to scuttle any regulations to dramatically restrict or ban gas stoves. Republicans used the mechanism this week to successfully challenge a Biden administration rule governing so-called ESG investing with 401(k)s thanks to some Democrats who bucked the president. Mr. Biden plans to veto the measure.
“We’re going to be very closely watching for what may come out with those regulations,” Mr. Barrasso said. “We would expect that we would use a Congressional Review Act to attack the administration’s attack on America’s freedom to make decisions.”
The Department of Energy has proposed stringent efficiency standards for new gas stoves that only 4% of the models on the market currently meet. They would decrease the average energy use for gas stoves by 32% starting in 2027 in the name of climate change and slashing energy bills. Manufacturers say the proposed standards ultimately would lead to longer cooking times.
Electric cooktops would also have to comply with new efficiency rules under the proposal, but the Energy Department says 80% of models already on the market would comply.
An Energy Department spokesperson recently told The Washington Times that concerns about the proposed standards are exaggerated.
“Gas cooktops would continue to have the full range of available burner sizes under the proposed standards, including high input-rate burners, to maintain the same boiling time on all cookware, since consumers boil different amounts of water in different-sized pots,” the spokesperson said.
Cities across the country are trying to reduce the number of new commercial and residential buildings with natural gas. Roughly 85 localities in various states have adopted some degree of regulation against natural gas, according to the American Gas Association.
Critics of moves to further regulate gas stoves say natural gas provides cheap and reliable energy for cooking for tens of millions of Americans.
The Biden administration vehemently insists it won’t prohibit the sales of new gas stoves, but even some Democratic lawmakers aren’t buying it.
“I’ve always been a proponent of energy efficiency, but the draft rule proposes efficiency levels that DOE says at the highest level — 96% of gas stoves — don’t currently meet. I don’t like where I think they’re going with this,” Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, said recently.
He and Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, have introduced legislation to protect gas stoves from a ban.
“I can tell you one thing: They’re not taking my gas stove out,” Mr. Manchin said.