The Biden Administration is planning to take away your gas stove from your cold, dead fingers. A headline that Fox News and other right-wing media had promoted for well over a week. But an interesting factoid came out since then.
The states with the most gas stoves are California and New York.
Hence, only wealthy liberals—A.K.A., foodies—can afford to buy and use gas stoves. Foodies aren’t your typical right-wing demographic. It wasn’t surprising that Fox News moved on to a different controversy.
Here’s why the great gas stove freak out is flaming out.
The Great Gas Stove Freak Out
The great gas stoves freak out started at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This government agency is considering new regulations to reduce indoor air pollution. When natural gas—or methane—is burned for cooking, other byproducts are released into the air.
- Nitrogen dioxide may cause childhood asthma.
- Fine particular matter may cause lung and heart disease.
- Volatile organic compounds may cause cancer.
If you’re not running the ventilation hood at full speed when using a gas stove, you might be killing yourself. Assuming, of course, whatever you’re cooking doesn’t kill you first.
If gas stoves can’t be made safer, banning them is an option. President Biden doesn’t support a federal ban on gas stoves. Not when there are already state and local bans in place.
If we look at this infographic from Statista, U.S. households are 68% electric stove and 38% gas stove. The top two states for gas stoves are California and New York.
According to that bastion of unbiased news reporting, The Wall Street Journal list the bans for those two states.
- Berkeley, San Francisco, and New York City banned gas stoves in new buildings.
- New York proposed a ban on gas appliances for new small buildings in 2025 and large buildings in 2028.
- New Yorkers will have to replace broken gas stoves with new electric stoves starting in 2030.
- Californians and New Yorkers won’t be able to buy new gas vehicles in 2035 and beyond.
I’m not sure why The Wall Street Journal added the new gas vehicle ban to their list. That ban applies only to new gasoline vehicles. No one is banning propane-powered vehicles like delivery vans and public buses. Propane is greener and burns more efficiently than natural gas.
Note the keyword, “new,” in these bans. New buildings won’t have the infrastructure for gas appliances. New electric stoves will replace broken gas stoves. No one is advocating for ripping out existing gas infrastructure and appliances. That would cost real money.
When I was kid in the 1970s, I lived in a neighborhood built in the 1950s that had wall gas furnaces. The pilot light always had to stay on. If the pilot light went out, gas could build up inside the house and smell like rotten eggs. If someone lit a match, the house could explode sky high.
The house that exploded in Pennsylvania a few days before Christmas had a gas leak. Plumbers impacted the gas line with a backhoe and called emergency services. Firefighters and plumbers were standing outside when the house blew up.
The most likely house fires in my old neighborhood came from mattress fires. Someone smoking a cigarette in bed falls asleep and catches the mattress on fire. Sometimes the house burns down to the ground and people get killed.
That happened to my parents when my father caught my mother’s side of the bed on fire. They extinguished the mattress fire before it got out of hand and no one got hurt. That was the last time my parents ever slept in the same bed.
The CPSC implemented regulations to reduce mattress fires from smoldering cigarettes in 1972.
I lived all over Silicon Valley as a kid, a college student, and a young adult. Most houses and apartments that I lived at had a gas water heater. Only one house in a relatively new neighborhood had a gas stove.
I’m skeptical that 70% of Californian homes have a gas stove. Unless that number includes every RV and mobile home in the Central Valley. The 70% number would be correct for gas water heaters.
The federal government isn’t coming for your gas stove. Your state and/or local government may require that you replace a gas stove with an electric stove in the next decade. Unless you’re a foodie, it probably doesn’t matter what you cook your food on anyway.