Gas stoves and the ever grasping hands of government

The federal government might or might not be targeting extremely popular natural gas stove tops, but the state of New York most certainly is along with other gas appliances based on suspect concerns about health risks and global warming.  An all-electric future is a crusade for some, who are more than willing to force you into it without an actual plan to make it work.

No one I know who cooks prefers an electric stove to a gas one.  Everything about cooking over a flame is superior:  It heats up faster and more controlled.  It’s hotter in general and the heat wraps around the pan on a large burner.  Conversely, most feel an electric oven is superior.  The heat is more even and the temperature more precise for baking.  Therefore, it should not be a surprise that many modern kitchens come equipped with a natural gas stove and an electric oven, offering amateur chefs the best of both worlds.  Overall, the percentage of gas stoves in the United States rose from less than 30% in the 1970’s to about 50% in 2019.  In some states including California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey, the number is over 70%.  These stoves are currently installed in millions upon millions of households, somewhere around 65 million in total across the country, and if your household is anything like mine, they serve as a centerpiece of the kitchen, where family gatherings begin as guests first start to arrive, bringing us closer together with the people we love while we enjoy cooking the foods we love.  Outside of gatherings and parties, the stove in my household is used almost everyday.  My wife and I both cook, and the evening usually begins with us together in the kitchen, crafting whatever dish is on the menu, unwinding, and enjoying each other’s company after a long day at work.  It is no exaggeration to say that our house would not be the same without our natural gas stove, as I am sure is true of millions of other people.

Unfortunately for all of us, anything popular is an irresistible target for the heavy hand of government.  The bureaucrats who increasingly seek to rule every aspect of our lives simply do not believe consumer choice leads to a positive outcome.  They look out across America and the mere sight of millions of people enjoying some aspect of their lives leads them to conclude that something must be dreadfully wrong and the planet itself might be at risk.  This many people choosing the same is seen as a catastrophe waiting to happen, and only they can protect us from ourselves.  Hence, even something as simple and self-evidently harmless as natural gas stoves have suddenly become a target at both the state and federal level.  Earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission will open a period of public comment later this winter on the safety of gas stoves.  “A federal agency says a ban on gas stoves is on the table amid rising concern about harmful indoor air pollutants emitted by the appliances,” the report began.  “The US Consumer Product Safety Commission plans to take action to address the pollution, which can cause health and respiratory problems.”  “This is a hidden hazard,” explained Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”  The safety concern centers around supposedly high levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulates that are said to be linked to “respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions.”  Last month, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study claiming that 12% of childhood asthma cases are the result of natural gas stoves.  “There is about 50 years of health studies showing that gas stoves are bad for our health, and the strongest evidence is on children and children’s asthma,” claimed Brady Seals, a co-author of the study and a manager in the carbon-free buildings program for a nonprofit clean energy group, RMI. “By having a gas connection, we are polluting the insides of our homes.”  Both the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency are in agreement.

It doesn’t take a degree in statistics, public health, or engineering to be highly skeptical of these claims.  If this were true, we should expect to see a close correlation between the increased use of natural gas stoves and the diagnosis of asthma given usage of these stoves has more than doubled in many cases over the past 50 years.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, found that asthma rates have actually declined recently, peaking at 8.5% of Americans in 2010 and 2011 before reducing to 7.7% of Americans by 2018.  Asthma deaths have also declined 41%, from 1.7 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 1.0 in 2016.  Deaths are highly concentrated in older age groups, making it almost inconceivable that both rates and deaths for asthma would be declining as natural gas stoves became more popular and were used more broadly.  Putting this another way, none of this research is suggesting that the stoves in question are so dangerous you suffer asthma after a single use.  Rather, the repeated exposure to the supposedly harmful pollutants becomes too much for the body to bear.  Therefore, we should expect a delayed onset followed by an increasing progression of more and more cases of asthmas and ultimately deaths, but we do not see anything close to it.  Instead, we see a pattern where rates generally increased in the US and globally in the 1970’s, only to peak or decline starting in the 1999’s through to today.  This strongly suggests our choice of stove has absolutely nothing to do with it, or at least has an impact that is likely so small as to be immeasurable, certainly not anywhere close to 12% of cases as a result of using a wok on an open flame.  We should also consider that most homes were heated and meals were cooked on actual wood burning stoves less than a hundred years ago.  If particulates from clean burning natural gas are so deadly they might need to be banned, how did anyone survive in the 19th or early 20th century when their stoves were actually smoking like a campfire?

Perhaps needless to say, the American Gas Association also strenuously disagrees with the health risk assessment.  They described the push to eliminate natural gas stoves as “reckless” and “misguided.”  “A December 2022 report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health linking natural gas cooking with asthma is not substantiated by sound science,” they wrote in a press release Tuesday.  “Any discussion or perpetuation of the allegations in this report which is funded by non-governmental organizations to advance their agenda to remove consumer energy choice and the option of natural gas is reckless,” the AGA added. The industry group also claimed to have evidence that the pollutants released from natural gas stoves are almost identical to that from electric and they plan to present it during the public comment period.  This may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but when you step back and consider that most of the particulates and chemicals released during cooking are necessarily from the food itself, it starts to make a little more sense.  In the meantime, we would be remiss to avoid pointing out that Mr. Seals has been on the anti-gas stove campaign for some time.  In September 2021, he published an article in The Guardian informing people that your “gas stove is polluting your own home” and urging them to “go electric.”  At the time, he combined the pollutant pitch with global warming and the climate crisis.  “With wildfires raging across the United States, a new wave of coronavirus spreading across the globe, and the signs of the climate crisis everywhere, there has never been a more important time for governments to act. The humble stove may seem like a tiny part of a big problem – but it’s one of our most personal, immediate and tangible. It’s also one of the easiest to change.”  Therefore, he is not merely interested in your choice of cooking surface.  His goal is to electrify everything, concluding his 2021 article by insisting the “time has come to go all-electric, both for our health and our future.”  This should not be surprising when he is employed by an organization that promotes fully electric buildings and earns his living by proselytizing against carbon-based sources of energy.  He is certainly entitled to do so, but we are equally entitled to consider his motivations.  Putting this another way, what are the odds the media in the modern era would publish a peer-reviewed study authored by the oil companies that concluded their impact on the environment was negligible?

The federal government is not the only out of control organization getting in on the anti-natural gas action.  New York State is poised to go even further, banning the use of natural gas in homes for any and all purposes.  Bloomberg News also had the story, “Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing to make New York the first state in the US to ban natural gas heating and appliances in new buildings, the latest salvo in an ongoing nationwide fight over the fuel.  Hochul called during her state-of-the-state address Tuesday to ban the use of fossil fuels by 2025 for newly built smaller structures and 2028 for larger ones. New York would also prohibit the sale of any new fossil-fuel heating systems starting in 2030.”  The ban would be massive, prohibiting gas furnaces, water heaters, and emergency generators, even gas fireplaces, representing a radical restructuring of how a huge percentage of homes and businesses are built.  Natural gas currently accounts for about 49% of home heat and hot water, outpacing electricity by a couple of percentage points.  If these plans become reality and if other states follow suit, the future construction of half the homes in the country would be affected.  There are also likely to be effects on current homes.  A market cannot shift that radically in such a short period of time, and still readily support the parts and repairs for existing infrastructure for the foreseeable future.  If new natural gas appliances aren’t being manufactured, they will get more expensive to service.  In fact, the plan in New York prevents replacement of natural gas appliances starting in 2030, as in you will no longer be able to purchase them at all and homeowners could face huge costs upgrading their electrical systems.  Of course, this has been part of the progressive plan all along.  In 2018, Vox.com claimed most “American homes are still heated with fossil fuels.  It’s time to electrify,” and by that, they mean everything.  In New York at least the natural gas ban would be followed five years later by a similar one on gasoline powered cars, pick up trucks, and sport utility vehicles, meaning this push for electrification extends from cooking to heating to transportation.  In other words, just about everything.

One might think such a radical change in energy usage and consumption would be accompanied by equally radical plans to ensure an adequate supply and distribution, but that’s not part of the plan.  Instead, we can expect more rolling black outs, during which you will not be able to heat your home, cook your food, or drive your car.  The cold spell last month prompted the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides power to all of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, plus parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia, to institute planned black outs to “manage unprecedented demand.” “Planned intermittent interruptions support system reliability,” the company said in a tweet. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we manage this unprecedented demand.”  The Associated Press reported that residents in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other states were instructed to turn off non-essential lights, reduce their thermostats, and not use major appliances or face potential rolling black outs.  Left unsaid, those with natural gas systems would be unaffected, at least for cooking and heating.  This is because diversity and redundancy in the energy supply for your home is self-evidently a good thing, especially in the middle of freezing weather, but at least these announcements were voluntary and were likely ignored by most consumers, at least until the power went out.  That is not always the case.  Last September, Xcel energy in Colorado actually took control over the temperature of homes equipped with so-called “smart” thermostats connected to the intranet.  As Denver 7 News reported, thousands of customers were locked out of their own heating system with the ominous message, “Temperature locked temporarily during energy emergency.  Due to a rare emergency that may affect the local energy grid, your temperature slider has been changed from 8:00 pm to 8:00 pm because you are enrolled in a Community Energy Savings program.”  George Orwell never imagined anything like this in his wildest dreams, but it will only get worse.  Electric cars are all equipped with similar technology, meaning it is only a matter of time before you are literally trapped in a freezing home by the government.  This is no longer a fever dream.  It is the reality they are planning for us.   In the UK, they estimate electricity usage will increase by four times as a result of the push to eliminate fossil fuels.  There are no actionable initiatives anywhere to address that demand, nor are there in the United States.  They know this and do not care because control over your life is a feature of their programs, not an incidental side effect.

The ever grasping hand of government will reach into your home and control it from afar if progressives get their way.  They keep claiming the future is electric.  If so, why do they feel the need to force us into it and what happens when none of it works as advertised?  After finishing this post, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman Alexander D. Hoehn-Saric said never mind, we are not actually going to do this.  “Over the past several days, there has been a lot of attention paid to gas stove emissions and to the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Mr. Hoehn-Saric wrote in an official statement released Wednesday. “To be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.”  No explanation was provided as to how the previous reports could have been wrong, suggesting they changed direction for now.  This, however, certainly will not be the last time they try.  It’s an essential part of their plan for you and your family.  It is only a matter of time before they strike again.

2 thoughts on “Gas stoves and the ever grasping hands of government”

  1. The federal government is full of sh*t. It started with trying to outlaw sugary soda drinks and progressed from there. It’s my right as an American citizen to choose whether or not I want to use electric or gas. It would cost consumers an incredible amount of money to convert their homes from gas to electric. Is the government going to foot the bill? They already expect consumers to cough up thousands of dollars they don’t have on electric cars. It’s time to put an end to unreasonable demands and burdens from the federal government, and that will percolate down to the states. And, it’s time to be honest: natural gas is used widely to power electricity plants!

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