A federal regulatory agency appears to have backed down after initially appearing to indicate that it would push for a ban on natural gas-burning stoves.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric said there is no forthcoming ban after one of his colleagues hinted that, indeed, a ban was in the pipeline.
CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said during an interview with Bloomberg that gas stoves constitute a “hidden hazard” and said “any option is on the table” for banning the popular appliances. Trumka’s father led the powerful AFL–CIO union from 1995 to 2009.
Hoehn-Saric noted in a statement posted to social media that neither he nor anyone with the agency are planning on such a ban, after Trumka, who was appointed to his post by President Joe Biden, generated the national controversy with his remarks.
I want to set the record straight.
— Alex Hoehn-Saric (@HoehnSaricCPSC) January 11, 2023
“Over the past several days, there has been a lot of attention paid to gas stove emissions,” Hoehn-Saric said. “Research indicates that emissions from gas stoves can be hazardous, and the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards. But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.”
The federal nanny agency is charged with “reducing the unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products.”
Hoehn-Saric added: “CPSC is researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks. CPSC also is actively engaged in strengthening voluntary safety standards for gas stoves. And later this spring, we will be asking the public to provide us with information about gas stove emissions and potential solutions for reducing any associated risks.”
As many as 70 percent of households in California and New Jersey use natural gas stoves for cooking. Nationwide, the figure is around 38 percent.
The controversy follows a letter sent by Democratic lawmakers expressing concerns over the much-used appliance. And, not surprisingly, the Democratic lawmakers turned the issue into a race and class thing.
“Statistics show that Black, Latino, and low-income households are more likely to experience disproportionate air pollution, either from being more likely to be located near a waste incinerator or coal ash site, or living in smaller homes with poor ventilation, malfunctioning appliances, mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, lead dust, pests, and other maintenance deficiencies,” they claimed.
Understandably, critics of the CPSC say the agency hasn’t done its homework regarding the safety of the appliances.
“Attempts to generate consumer fears with baseless allegations to justify the banning of natural gas is a misguided agenda that will not improve the environment or the health of consumers and would saddle vulnerable populations with significant costs,” the American Gas Association said in a statement.