A House Oversight and Accountability subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday on a proposed Department of Energy (DOE) regulation that would require increased efficiency from new gas stoves. Republicans, who are the majority on the committee, immediately made their opposition to the proposal clear.
"The Biden administration is looking to regulate gas stoves out of existence," Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, who chairs the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy and Regulatory Affairs, said in his opening remarks. "What is more American than a gas stove?"
Democrats noted that DOE estimates half the gas stove models currently on the market are already above the proposed requirement.
"This proposed rule is not a ban on gas stoves," said Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., her party's ranking member on the subcommittee. "We are regulating indoor air pollution."
On Jan. 31, the DOE released a first-ever proposal to limit the energy consumption of gas stoves, which are used in roughly 40% of American households. Compared to the least-efficient stoves on the market, the rule would increase efficiency by 30%.
The DOE estimates this would save American consumers $1.7 billion on their gas bills over 30 years.
Why this is happening
Gas stoves emit air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter at levels the World Health Organization has deemed unsafe. Exposure to these substances is linked to respiratory illness and cancer. Gas stoves also emit methane, a powerful planet-warming greenhouse gas, and produce carbon dioxide, the largest cause of climate change.
The Biden administration is pursuing what it calls a "whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis," that entails regulating fossil fuels through every avenue possible and the DOE is also required by law to require efficiency gains in consumer products.
Republicans invited witnesses representing the gas industry and from conservative think tanks, who argued that the DOE wants to limit consumer choices.
“Fifty percent of the market will not comply with DOE’s rule. That is a substantial amount of gas cooktops,” said Matthew Agen, chief regulatory counsel for energy at the American Gas Association. “Of the higher-end cooktops, professional-grade cooking products, about 96% will be wiped out. So a large percentage of the desirable products with the features that people are looking for will be wiped out.”
Appliance Standards Awareness Project Executive Director Andrew deLaski, who was invited by Democrats, countered that the gas stove manufacturers would have several years to develop new models that comply with the standards because the rule would take effect until 2027.
Irking Republicans, the DOE declined to send witnesses, saying it could not provide comment outside of what is in the proposal.
"We have a Department of Energy who doesn't even have the guts, the courage, to come in here and answer questions about their proposed rule," Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said.
Democrats, meanwhile, said the proposal would be helpful to the environment and public health.
“It’s important to recognize that gas stoves perpetuate an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels and can cause significant health issues,” Bush said. “We know the Department of Energy’s proposed rule and new efficiency standards will reduce both the negative climate and health impacts.”
Other Republican efforts
The Republican majority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee also passed two bills Wednesday to prevent federal gas stove regulations. One bill would prevent the DOE from adopting this proposed regulation, while the other would block the CPSC from banning gas stoves. Four Democrats voted for the measures.
Why gas stoves are a hot topic
In January, a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health calculated that 12.7% of childhood asthma cases in the United States were attributable to indoor air pollution from gas stoves. That led Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to say the CPSC would consider regulating gas stoves, and that a full ban on the product wasn't off the table, which triggered outrage on the right.
"I'll NEVER give up my gas stove," tweeted Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas. "If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands. COME AND TAKE IT!!"
CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric subsequently disavowed any consideration of a gas stove ban.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on Thursday a one-year sales tax exemption for gas stoves and some conservatives were outraged when New York recently required that most new buildings use only electricity for heat and cooking.
The DOE proposal is totally separate from the CPSC.