Let Off the Gas: What’s Up With This Potential Ban on Gas Stoves?

by Lauren Leazenby
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Natural gas-powered stoves are relatively ubiquitous. They sit in some 40 million homes nationwide — they’re even preferred by some professional chefs — and they’re a significant source of household air pollution.

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That last part has led some officials within the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent federal regulatory agency, to consider a ban on gas stoves. One of those individuals is Richard Trumka, Jr., one of the organization’s commissioners. He stirred the pot in a Monday interview when he suggested the CPSC was considering either banning gas stoves or regulating their emissions.

Trumka’s statement caused some level of panic among consumers who like their gas stoves, or who do not have electric hookups that would allow them to switch from one energy source to another. However, it’s important to note that a national ban on gas stoves is not happening in any widespread capacity.

The Ban, as Proposed, Is Outta Gas

Trumka said it himself on Twitter Monday: “To be clear, CPSC isn’t coming for anyone’s gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products.”

The commissioner’s idea for a ban hasn’t been popular in the past. He wanted the CPSC to create rules for gas stove use back in October, according to the New York Times, but he failed to get support from the rest of the commission.

CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric has gone on the record saying that there is no prohibition on gas stoves.

“I am not looking to ban gas stoves, and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so,” Hoehn-Saric said in a statement.

It’s not coming from the top down, either. President Biden doesn’t wish to ban gas-powered cookers. Michael Kikukawa, a White House spokesperson, said, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is independent, is not banning gas stoves.”

Health Concerns Are the Real Reason to Pass on Gas

While it’s easy to see why even the idea of a ban has outraged some gas stove fans around the country, there’s a reason Trumka thinks such a ban could be worthwhile: our health.

According to a December 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12.7% of U.S. cases of childhood asthma can be attributed to gas stove use.

As we’ve covered before, all types of cooking create some level of air pollution in the home, but gas stoves are generally the worst offenders. They emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter — not stuff you really want to breathe in. In addition to asthma, these pollutants are associated with respiratory illness, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Gas stoves also pose an environmental issue. Natural gas has methane in it, and methane is a greenhouse gas. A January 2022 study of homes in California found that as much as 75% of methane emissions occurred while the stoves were turned off, which indicates that leaks may be common. So even if you aren’t using your gas stove, it might still be polluting your home.

Now You’re Cooking With Gas … But You May Not Be Forever

As such, some jurisdictions already have some sort of gas-stove ban. According to the Washington Post, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and other cities have prevented installations of gas stoves or natural gas hookups in new homes or apartments. Other cities are considering bans, but it can’t happen everywhere. According to CNN, about 20 states currently have “preemption laws” on the books that make it impossible for individual cities to ban natural gas.

So the important thing to understand is that you likely won’t be asked to throw away your perfectly good appliance — just like Trumka said in that tweet. That would, indeed, be against the stated goal of reducing pollution. Instead, if some sort of ban or regulation is introduced in your area, you may no longer be able to purchase a gas-powered stove — or, at least, not one that’s just like the one you’ve got. Or, you may not be able to put a natural gas hookup in your new home. You could expect such a process to look much like the gradual phase-out of incandescent lightbulbs in the 2000s.

Switching to an electric or induction model when you’re due for a new stove is the best way to get out ahead of a natural-gas phase-out — and to protect yourself from the dangers associated with gas stove use. (As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, you may be eligible for a rebate of up to $840, plus $500 to help switch between gas and electric if you do.) But if you’re not ready to let off the gas just yet, you can rest easy knowing there’s no national ban in the works.

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