Gas stove ban has progressive lighting in America

After my column last week about environmentalists’ apparent desire to make our lives miserable while trying to improve the environment, I heard from progressives who accused me of jumping on Fox News. That’s because I pointed to their latest crusade to highlight the supposed dangers of natural gas stoves.

“I’d laugh at all the dipsticks going crazy over the imaginary war on gas stoves, but sadly, that’s an indication of how stupid and easily led people are,” wrote one former journalist on Twitter. It echoed a common theme: Conservatives are engaged in their latest baseless frenzy about some “sensible” policy.

A few regular readers might accuse me of jumping into right-wing movements. Despite some exaggeration and inaccurate reporting—and try to find any issue that doesn’t cause hysteria on social media—conservatives are right. Climate warriors are indeed trying to ban gas stoves, even though they are smart enough to offer a patina of denial.

To summarize. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency charged with protecting the public from unsafe products, has announced its intention to assess emissions from gas stoves. “Research shows that emissions from gas furnaces can be dangerous,” the agency explained. Although popular among chefs, gas stoves are said to impair indoor air quality and contribute to asthma problems.

As that journalist noted ua rebuttal to my disparaging tweet, “Oooooh, research. Scary! Who could want more knowledge anyway? I guess you’re against scientific research because you’ve done it yourself?” No, I haven’t commissioned my own gas furnace emissions studies, but I have studied gaseous emissions from environmentalists and regulators my entire career and can draw some conclusions.

For starters, government efforts to ban things always start with a study. Government agencies don’t just announce a ban on a popular item — whether it’s gas stoves, gas lawn mowers or combustion engine vehicles. They start with a premise (this item is dangerous) and then study a very serious problem. Ideologically aligned interests produce studies with predictable results.

In response to the uproar, CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric issued a statement assuring Americans that “I do not want to ban gas stoves and the CPSC does not have a process for doing so.” But that’s a little disingenuous. The CPSC has been targeting gas stoves for months—and it’s become a cause for concern among many local officials.

And remember how this started. CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. he said in an interview that “(T)his is a hidden danger. Every option is on the table. Products that cannot be made safe can be banned.” Imagine the stupidity of the public that took seriously the words of a senior official at an agency that banned lawn darts and ordered their immediate destruction.

If this panic over gas stove emissions had occurred in a vacuum, Republicans might still be clamoring for, as one writer put it, pushing “gas stoves into the culture wars.” Some conservatives responded in a light-hearted way, including U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) who tweeted: “God. Guns. Gas furnaces.” Still, the right-wing instincts are correct. The progressives may not come for your existing furnace, but they are trying to stop all new installations.

In 2021, New York passed a ban on new natural gas furnaces (and other gas appliances) in new buildings. It applies to those below seven floors next year, and to higher buildings in four years. In 2019, Berkeley was the first American city to introduce a similar ban on new construction.

This year, Los Angeles became the largest city in the United States to ban gas. “More than 60 cities and counties across the state are considering policies to support all-electric new construction,” the Sierra Club reported (cheerfully) in 2021. It’s no surprise that federal bureaucrats are getting in on the action.

This is how the game works. It is an orchestrated effort driven by climate concern. Environmentalists want to switch to a renewable electricity grid and move away from fossil fuels. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. “Natural gas bans are new front in effort to curb emissions,” boasted one news headline. What better way to build support for that policy than to scare people about the dangers of gas cooking?

My aim is not to engage in a deep discussion of the latest research. However, as with all “trust the science” issues, there are differing informed opinions. The CPSC relies on a compilation of research published by an environmental group that blames stoves for 12 percent of U.S. childhood asthma cases.

Critics, however, argue that the study ignored prominent international research showing no link to asthma and did not address other environmental factors that may have caused the disease. If indoor air quality were a real problem, then perhaps regulators could insist on proper furnace ventilation – but practical solutions are less interesting than panic.

Make your own judgment, but don’t let anyone convince you that this crusade is made up.

This column was first published in The Orange County Register.

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