Gas stove policies have been heating up in Congress and across state legislatures this year. Two bills — the Save Our Gas Stoves Act (H.R. 1640), and the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act (H.R. 1615 in the House, S.240 in the Senate) — are working their way through Congress. While the discussion around residential gas stove use arose due to credible public health and safety concerns, the conversation has quickly ballooned into wider battles over consumer choice.

How did we get here?

On January 9th, comments made by Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner on the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, ignited this inadvertent battle. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Trumka cited the known health and safety concerns over gas stoves, offhandedly stating they would consider implementing more stringent regulations or a ban on new gas stoves to protect consumer health.

Some of the hazardous toxins emitted from gas stoves include dangerously high levels of nitrous dioxide — which is particularly dangerous when circulating indoors, especially for children. Even unburned natural gas from stoves presents a health risk as it contains benzene, a carcinogen. Cooking with gas indoors also generates fine particulate matter detrimental to the respiratory system. Indeed, Brady Seals in a March Buildings Hub Live episode mentioned that her co-authored study found 12.7 percent of American childhood asthma cases can be attributed to indoor gas stove use.

According to Atlas Buildings Hub, 36 percent of American homes have ranges that rely on some form of gas, while 53 percent have electric-only ranges. While Trumka’s suggested policy would not mean removing existing gas stoves from current buildings, legislators including Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) subsequently drafted legislation to protect what they perceive as Americans’ threatened rights to own and purchase a gas stove.

Cruz and Manchin introduced the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act in the Senate on Feb. 2. A companion bill emerged in the House, introduced by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), alongside the Save Our Gas Stoves Act introduced by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).

These bills seek to prohibit the use of federal dollars to ban gas stoves and eliminate the Secretary of Energy’s ability to act on a proposed energy conservation rule designed to set standards for consumer cooking products. Product safety and energy conservation standards that increase the price of gas stoves or make them unavailable would be prohibited. This national discussion has pushed lawmakers, almost exclusively Republicans, to leverage a focus on consumer choice — while diverting attention away from or undermining compelling arguments surrounding efficiency, consumer savings, and human health when discussing the transition to electric stoves.

Where are gas stoves predominantly in use?

Before jumping into individual state policies, it is important to understand which states have the highest densities of residential gas range users.

According to Atlas Buildings Hub, households in Illinois (65 percent), New Jersey (64 percent), New York (64 percent), California (60 percent), Nevada (52 percent), and New Mexico (50 percent) rely the most on gas to cook on their stove ranges. Notably, these are all states with Democrat-controlled legislatures whose policies generally support electrification and climate action.

Likewise, the states with the highest share of homes with electric-only ranges tend to be those with Republican-controlled legislatures, such as Florida (83 percent), North Dakota (81 percent), North Carolina (78 percent), South Dakota (78 percent), Tennessee (76 percent), Kentucky (76 percent) and South Carolina (72 percent).

State action

In response to the national gas stove conversation, Florida recently implemented a new sales tax incentive for gas stoves as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Framework for Freedom budget. The permanent sales tax exemption line item stands at $7 million. This sort of policy represents a mismatch in policymaking priorities and the actual needs of residents — after all, the vast majority of Florida homes have electric cooktops. Similarly, the House bill sponsors come from states, North Dakota and Arizona, where a strong majority of households also have all-electric cooking.

At its heart, DeSantis’ tax exemption merely represents an exercise in messaging, and necessary bipartisan support for the recently introduced federal gas stove bills is nonexistent. The bills also work contrary to the goals of the Biden-Haris administration, making them highly unlikely to be signed by the President. However, there is a greater chance that similar policies will pass in more conservative state legislatures.

Political outcomes aside, 57 percent of parents, after learning of a link between gas stove use and childhood asthma, expressed interest in replacing their stoves with electric models according to a January 2023 poll by Morning Consult. As more people become aware of the health and environmental hazards posed by gas stoves, we may very well see a shift towards all-electric cooking take place organically.

About the author: Katherine Shok

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