U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. has said the agency will take action against household gas stoves, which he says are linked to asthma and other respiratory issues.
Trumka made the statement to a Bloomberg reporter for a report published Monday.
But it’s not the first time in recent weeks he has talked about banning gas cooking appliances. Sanctions against gas stoves are very likely to all-out bans on them, he said in December.
“We need to be talking about regulating gas stoves, whether that’s drastically improving emissions or banning gas stoves entirely. And I think we ought to keep that possibility of a ban in mind, because it’s a powerful tool in our tool belt and it’s a real possibility here,” he told the Public Interest Research Group network in a press availability with the group held online.
For over two years, the environmentalist-driven campaign against gas stoves has increased. As of Jan. 1, 2023, Los Angeles has banned gas stoves in new residential and commercial buildings. There are now more than 50 cities with similar bans or tight regulations, such as Seattle and San Francisco.
Chefs — professional and home — say they prefer gas stovetops because they get more precise control over the temperature of their dishes. And cooking and eating at home is traditionally at the heart of a strong family life, as Americans know it.
But the war on natural gas, which started with Democrats and environmental NGOs and their push for a no-fossil-fuel future, has now found a new ally: children’s health experts, who link natural gas stoves to childhood asthma. According to the Energy Information Agency, about 38% of homes use gas for cooking, but in states such as New Jersey, gas heats up 69% of stoves.
“Berkeley was the pilot light of this movement. The city was the first to ban gas connections in new buildings in 2019, something the California Restaurant Association is still fighting in court. The speed at which other municipalities followed, from Seattle to New York to other cities across California, only underscores how the culture of lawmaking often is the culture of fads,” wrote Judson Berger in the National Review in 2021.
But what about the people who love to cook with gas, especially Latinos and those who cook Asian dishes in woks?
“Ironically, these measures — being driven by progressives in Democrat-run cities to fight climate change — will end up disproportionately disadvantaging minority communities, namely immigrant communities whose cooking cultures are far less compatible with electric stoves,” Berger wrote. “SFWeekly, covering last year’s debate in San Francisco, drew attention to this disparate impact, focusing again on the art of the wok while noting how Latin American cooking likewise relies on flame.”
Democrat Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and other Democrats in December implored the agency to take action against gas stoves in a letter that called the emissions a “cumulative burden” on black, Latino and lower-income Americans. The letter was co-signed by Democrat Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, among others, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
From the House, the letter is co-signed by Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Shontel M. Brown (D-OH), Mark Takano (D-CA), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Gwen S. Moore (D-WI), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), and Katie Porter (D-CA).
With Democrats and environmentalists declaring a coordinated war on gas stoves, at least some are pushing back.
The California Restaurant Association is one of those. It says that a much-cited Sierra Club/UCLA study of effects of residual gas appliances on public health are misleading and the science behind the study is not valid. UCLA inflated the risk of using gas stoves by using incorrect and misleading comparisons of emissions to established air quality standards.
“California chefs rely on gas stoves to grill vegetables, sear meats and create meals of all kinds inspired by cuisines from all over the world,” said Jot Condie, President of the California Restaurant Association. “We are concerned that misleading health claims could lead to the loss of flame cooking, which would dramatically impact restaurants and the work of chefs and cooks, all of whom have endured enough during COVID-19. The CRA believes policy and regulatory decisions should be based on accurate and sound science.”
“In order to make informed decisions, policymakers and regulators must have the most accurate information available to them,” said Dan Tormey, president of Catalyst Environmental Solutions and chief author of the report. “The UCLA study mischaracterizes emissions from gas stoves while advocating for an expensive and burdensome transition to all-electric.”