Turning Up the Heat // Gasbags rail about Stovegate

Vaccines, migrants and voter fraud allegations are slowly outliving their ability to fuel outrage and keep the population polarized.  Even high officials’ carelessness with classified documents has begun to fade to ho-humness.

But have no fear! Stovegate is here!

The new hostilities broke out when Richard Trumka, a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) member, cited some studies that associated natural gas stoves with things like increased asthma attacks in children.

“That’s why I think,” he said in a speech, that “we need to be talking about regulating gas stoves, whether that’s drastically improving emissions or banning gas stoves entirely.”

The agency later hastened to clarify that no current plan to ban gas stoves is (forgive me) on the front burner, and that the CPSC is merely “researching gas emissions” and “exploring new ways to address any health risks.” 

But it was too late. The missiles and bombers were already in the air. The dovetailing of government nannyism and the potential effect that curtailing natural gas usage would have on the industry that produces the stuff created the perfect Sturm und Drang. The Washington Post’s (forgive me again) overheated claim that “Scientists say a growing body of research shows that gas stoves pose a threat to the planet and public health” wasn’t helpful. Things had reached a boil (my bad!).

Texas Representative Dr. Ronny Jackson tweeted: “If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands. COME AND TAKE IT!!” 

Not one to be left behind, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, after listing what he considers nefarious government restrictions, added “G[-]d. Guns. Gas stoves.”

The idea of banning or setting new standards for gas stoves emerges mostly from the fact that they emit small amounts of nitrogen dioxide, methane and tiny particles that irritate lungs and have been linked to aggravated childhood asthma.

But there are many things that irritate lungs and, presumably, aggravate asthmatics. Like my cherished jalapeño peppers; cutting them up always makes me cough. (And don’t even THINK of fiddling with my avocado toast, White House maniacs!) Not to mention other much worse yet perfectly legal irritants like cigarettes (tobacco and otherwise).

So, while households with asthma sufferers would be wise to opt for electric stoves, those without any needn’t be alarmed by either the studies or Mr. Trumka’s musing.

And even were gas stove regulations to one day be enacted, they would likely apply only to new appliances, not the ones currently being used in around a third of kitchens in the US.

In fact, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has called for the state to ban natural gas heating and appliances in new buildings. The New York City Council passed a bill in 2021 that effectively bans gas in new buildings beginning in 2024. In 2019, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the nation to ban gas hookups in most new buildings. 

On the federal level, though, any consideration of lessening consumers’ reliance on natural gas was burned to a crisp (apologies again). A group of 44 House Republicans introduced the “Guard America’s Stoves” (GAS—get it?) Act, which would prohibit the CPSC from banning gas stoves. 

Not to be acronym-outdone, Republican Congressmen Bill Huizenga of Missouri and Alex Mooney of West Virginia (yes, they’re real) introduced the “Stop Trying to Obsessively Vilify Energy (STOVE) Act.” 

(Personally I’d like to see a DUMB (“Dump Unnecessary Mindless Bills”) Act.

The issue, though, is something of a (sorry, I can’t help it!) tempest in a teapot. If the government should come to feel that there is credible evidence for gas stoves’ adverse health effects, no bans will be necessary.  All that will be needed to get consumers to switch to electric or magnetic induction ranges is…to pay them enough.

Amateur cooks like me, and professional ones alike, prefer to cook with gas. A flame under a skillet or pot is infinitely adjustable and just so…natural. 

But offer me a generous enough bribe to replace our gas stove with a cool induction one and I’ll get used to it, I’m sure. 

And with the extra cash, we’ll be able, when cooking seems a chore, to just order out. 

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