The Gas Stove Panic

Matt Taibbi used Unimportant Flying Objects as a point of departure for his must-read Government by Panic. We will shortly argue that the sudden and obviously non-organic emergence of the gas stove as a public menace that must be metered way down hews to that pattern.

But first to Taibbi:

Now take a hypothetical. Say you’re a member of the American political establishment after the 2016 election of Donald Trump. You’re staring at four years as part of a government-in-exile and need a new message to solve your belief problem. What’s your answer?

My hypothesis is such people never bothered to find one. Instead, they declared a state of emergency.

What emergency? Doesn’t matter. Russian interference was a good startup disaster, but you can keep changing them. The important thing is the pattern. One, declare a crisis. Two, spread panic. Three, take emergency measures. If you do this over and over, you end up with permanent crisis, permanent panic, permanent emergency rule. So long as new crises keep evoking unconscious fear and anxiety, the legitimacy of the political establishment is continuously justified.

Now even though something as pedestrian as kitchen devices hardly seems to merit ad emergency response, the way this issue has been moved to the front burner suggests it too is getting the panic treatment….and like the Chinese balloon intruder, with an underwhelming news hook.

The plan to Do Something about gas stoves apparently got traction via an October 2022 memo by Richard Trumka, a Biden appointee to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Word of the initiative broke on January 9. Per Bloomberg:

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 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,” Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, said in an interview. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

Natural gas stoves, which are used in about 40% of homes in the US, emit air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter at levels the EPA and World Health Organization have said are unsafe and linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions, according to reports by groups such as the Institute for Policy Integrity and the American Chemical Society. Consumer Reports, in October, urged consumers planning to buy a new range to consider going electric after tests conducted by the group found high levels of nitrogen oxide gases from gas stoves.

New peer-reviewed research published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that more than 12% of current childhood asthma cases in the US can be attributed to gas stove use.

The study was published December 21 and picked up by the Washington Post on January 6. It no doubt was in circulation prior to publication.

Due to being jet-lagged, yours truly has not read the article in full. However, it was a meta-study, meaning the general drift of its findings was not novel, as demonstrated by initiatives by 42 cities to end gas stove use as of 2021. Note the analysis is based on population-level correlations.1 That means there is no consideration whether gas stove “indoor pollution” can be adequately mitigated by better ventilation.

The Trumka gas stove ban threat generated strong opposition, which led to a retreat. From Bloomberg two days after the interview, on January 11:

The head of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said the agency has no plans to ban gas stoves, days after one of his colleagues said a ban was one option under consideration in comments that ignited a political firestorm.

“I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so,” Alexander Hoehn-Saric said in a statement Wednesday. He added that the four-person commission is researching emissions from the appliances and looking for ways to reduce related indoor air-quality hazards.

Hoehn-Saric’s comments follow remarks made by Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, who told Bloomberg that the CPSC would consider a ban as part of efforts to address hazards posed by gas ranges. His words ignited criticism from the gas industry and from lawmakers ranging from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers to Senator Joe Manchin.

“I can tell you the last thing that would ever leave my house is the gas stove that we cook on,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement Tuesday. “If this is the greatest concern that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has for American consumers, I think we need to reevaluate the commission.”

Per Rodgers remark, how many card-carrying members of the PMC have restaurant-sized stoves with gas burners as status statements?

Fox got access to the Trumka memo and discussed it on February 2. a cursory search didn’t turn up the full text. But the Fox account, with supporting excerpts, argues that the Biden Administration most assuredly had been pursuing a ban.

But back to elite kitchen fetish objects class issues cut the other way too. The reason gas stoves are so common in urban apartments is that they are cheap to operate. And the Trumka memo argued that the CPSC had a duty to ban consumer products that generate hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act: “There is sufficient information available for CPSC to issue an NPR [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] in FY 2023 proposing to ban gas stoves in homes…The additional work needed to complete an NPR is primarily economic…”

One has to assume that the proposed Department of Energy rules restricting both gas and energy stoves to energy-efficient, which generally means lower-power, units, quietly launched at the end of the month, were meant primarily to provide the CPSC’s economic case. Note the DoE, contrary to the typical practice of Federal agencies, has not posted the proposed rule on its site; you have to go rummaging about to find it in the Federal Register or

An overview from NBC:

The proposed standards, which focus on energy consumption, would require that both gas and electric stoves meet certain efficiency thresholds. The proposal also suggests new standards for gas and electric ovens.

“As required by Congress, the Department of Energy is proposing efficiency standards for gas and electric cooktops — we are not proposing bans on either,” a department spokesperson said in a statement. “The proposed standards would not go into effect until 2027 and cumulatively save the nation up to $1.7 billion. Every major manufacturer has products that meet or exceed the requirements proposed today.”

The article does acknowledge the new rules are for countertops and ovens….when most Americans buy ranges. So how does that work?

In addition, by law, energy efficiency rules are not warranted unless they are technologically feasible, economically justified, and result in significant energy conservation (see 42 U.S.C. section 6295(o)(2)(A), (o)(3)(B)). That is questionable here.

Bloomberg quoted industry sources that contended that the new rules would amount to a near ban:

“This approach by DOE could effectively ban gas appliances,” said Jill Notini, a vice president with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, a Washington-based trade group. “We are concerned this approach could eliminate fully featured gas products.”

Lobbyists are wont to say that sort of thing. But more telling, the economic case, which recall is required by statute, is weak. “Up to $1.7 billion cumulatively” as over the usual CBO 10 year scoring period of ten years, across all US households, is close to rounding error.2 Note that cooking accounts for 4% to 5% of home energy use. Water heaters, washers and driers, and lights each amount to more than twice as much.

The details of the very long regulatory discussion are over my pay grade. However, it makes clear consumers will have to pay more for appliances: “The effect of new or amended energy conservation standards on individual consumers usually involves a reduction in operating cost and an increase in purchase cost.” This again hurts lower income consumers. And confirming the marginal nature of the savings, in most cases the payback period is 14 years or more.3

In addition, I do not see the analysis allowing for the cost of changing gas to electrical connections, as in sealing the gas piping and running new 220v to the stove/range/oven location, since in most cases, the outcome would be to replace gas appliances with electric. That will add to upfront costs, and those have a disproportionate impact in NPV terms.

Finally, it appears that the DoE didn’t consider the impact of extra demand for electrical power on creaky grids. Even if there are efficiency gains, they are likely to be more than offset by shifting gas demand over to electricity. Grids are already projected to be unable to handle the demands of more electric vehicles. But this sort of mandating changes without considering downstream effect is typical for our PowerPoint dwelling leaders.

Finally, don’t kid yourself that our lovers of tricked-out kitchens will be denied the sort of equipment that elite rental chefs will need to perform well. Is this sort of product is outside the contemplated regulations? It seems to be in a novel category:

Mind you, as much as I liked using a gas stove in New York City, I do not feel deprived by no longer having one. The reason for taking interest in the anti-gas stove push is that its sudden emergence as a Biden priority suggests a big money interest must be behind it. But if so, it’s remained well hidden so far.

And finally, amusingly, the Administration appeared to have thought it had a trump card in the spectacle of children’s health. After the lack of uproar over Covid deaths and likely long-term harm, Team Biden should have recognized from their experience that despite all the sentimentality, children are disposables in an neoliberal economy.


1 Note the paper appears to have gotten an expedited review. It was submitted November 4 and accepted December 14. The abstract:

Indoor gas stove use for cooking is associated with an increased risk of current asthma among children and is prevalent in 35% of households in the United States (US). The population-level implications of gas cooking are largely unrecognized. We quantified the population attributable fraction (PAF) for gas stove use and current childhood asthma in the US. Effect sizes previously reported by meta-analyses for current asthma (Odds Ratio = 1.34, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.12–1.57) were utilized in the PAF estimations. The proportion of children (<18 years old) exposed to gas stoves was obtained from the American Housing Survey for the US, and states with available data (n = 9). We found that 12.7% (95% CI = 6.3–19.3%) of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use. The proportion of childhood asthma that could be theoretically prevented if gas stove use was not present (e.g., state-specific PAFs) varied by state (Illinois = 21.1%; California = 20.1%; New York = 18.8%; Massachusetts = 15.4%; Pennsylvania = 13.5%). Our results quantify the US public health burden attributed to gas stove use and childhood asthma. Further research is needed to quantify the burden experienced at the county levels, as well as the impacts of implementing mitigation strategies through intervention studies.

Note the paper prominently flags that amelioration strategies have not been investigated.

2 From the proposed regulation:

Using a 7-percent discount rate for consumer benefits and costs and NO X and SO 2 reduction benefits, and a 3-percent discount rate case for GHG social costs, the estimated cost of the proposed standards for consumer conventional cooking products is $32.5 million per year in increased product costs, while the estimated annual benefits are $100.8 million in reduced product operating costs, $67.0 million in climate benefits and $64.9 million in health benefits. The net monetized benefit amounts to $200.3 million per year.

3 Since I do not know the industry, it is possible that some of the categories with short payback periods are disproportionate in terms of industry sales.

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  1. John R Moffett

    Gas stoves are awful. I lived with them for many decades and I can’t overstate how much I prefer electric. I would never run a generator in my house, and I don’t even burn wood in the pot belly stove anymore. I get enough pollution without all that. But I do agree that the government has everyone in continuous panic mode for their own nefarious reasons. Still, it will be good for everyone to eventually get rid of the belching tailpipes in their kitchens.

    1. John Makowiec

      I disagree with you. I don’t like cooking with electric. It is a lot more difficult to control the cooking temperature than with gas.I have used a gas stove to cook with for 50 years.My two children grew up in the house with the gas stove. Neither had any health problems that could be attributed to the gas stove. Both were healthy children that grew up to be healthy adults. As far as pollution, when you factor in the pollution to generate electricity it is probably a wash. Another plus with the gas stove is it can be used as a source of heat when the power goes out and my central heating is lost.

      1. fresno dan

        I agree – I cannot make scrambled eggs on an electric stove to save my life. Speaking of which, they can have my gas stove when they pry if out of my warm dead fingers…
        or of course when they stop the natural gas supply…maybe because it is being shipped to Europe…

        1. semper loquitur

          Induction is even worse. You have, say, six to ten settings for temperature. There is no 1.5. They are clumsy to adjust.

          With gas, I can visually gauge the temperature by the size of the flame. It comes with practice but it’s faster and more attuned to what I need at the moment. Also, you cannot char things with electric or induction.

          This is all bull$hit. As Yves points out above, no one gives a flying rat’s a$$ about the average American’s health. We’d have free healthcare if they did. This is some kind of a scheme.

      2. elly

        Good point re: the pollution generated to operate a massive-scale electrical grid. I’m a gas stove cooker and gas dryer appliance user.

      3. R Matta

        My mother swore by electric, and my wife and I had it for over 25 years before remodeling our kitchen. It has one distinct advantage over the ‘average’ gas stove – it gets hotter so boiling water goes faster. But my wife wanted gas (having used it in her home and in one small apartment) and we paid a small fortune for a new gas line and a proper ventilation system – not to mention the range itself with one 16,000 BTU burner (really, too big for most pots). Besides giving finer control, it heats up the sides of rounded pans like woks far better. BUT, the key is the ventilation – it was required in my area by Code. Fresh air is brought into the house (via the furnace/air conditioner) at a rate that can be varied depending on the number of burners going, and vented via a hood. The salespeople said that the “rationale” was to eliminate the water vapor caused by burning, which can be significant.

        The current efforts to ban gas don’t just extend to ranges, they include furnaces and water heaters. Not only are they much cheaper to operate, but if the power goes out I still have hot water and something to cook on.

        1. Art Eclectic

          Actually, you might not. Your furnace needs a fan to blow air through the ducts – those fans run on electricity. And if you have a newer water heater with an electronic pilot, it too needs electricity for the pilot to light.

          If you have old school equipment that requires zero electricity to operate, then you’re still in business when the power is out. However, with standing pilot lights you’re wasting gas keeping those lit all the time when not needed, so you pay either way.

          1. Gaianne

            Flint strikers work fine on a gas stove, if you have electric ignition but the power goes out. So keeping a flint striker to hand is a good idea. Pilot lights work but are not essential.

            But this sudden push for all-electric is puzzling. When I was a child growing up in the suburbs where there were no gas lines, all-electric had a certain logic. But as the electric grid visibly starts falling apart, this has the feel of another World Economic Forum project in the mold of “you will own [have] nothing and you will like it [or not: we don’t care].”


    2. agent ranger smith

      I spent the first 15 years of my life seeing cooking done on electric resistance coil stovetops or cooking on them myself, plus electric stovetop interluded more recently. And I have spent the last near-30 years in my own dwelling unit cooking on gas stove-burner tops.

      I like gas better. The heat goes right up when you turn it up and it goes right down or off when you turn it down or off. Electric has a lag-time in each direction. And I don’t want to marinate myself in the possibly carcino-accelerant electro-magnetic fields generated by induction cooktops. Let somebody else spend the next 50 years beta-testing that one.

      If/when I am ever in a position to get a real house of my very own, with my very own kitchen, and if by that time gas stoves have been well and truly forbidden, and its induction stoves for everybody, I will register my personal rejection of that by building tiny little campfires on top of my mandatory induction stove, and cooking on those.

    3. ian

      Disagree completely. Gas range with electric oven is where it’s at. The belching tailpipe in the kitchen is also more for venting cooking odors than combustion products from the stove.

  2. Lydia Maria Child

    LNG is exportable and now highly profitable for US exporters. Electricity is not. European market. Easy peasy.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      My thoughts exactly – the US can’t be selling relatively cheap natural gas to USian plebes when Europe is now willing to pay many multiples of the going rate ever since Uncle Sugar exploded their pipeline.

      1. agent ranger smith

        My thoughts too. This strikes me as part of a bigger plan to forbid and prevent gas use in America in order to compress all the gas and sell it to foreign buyers. Every last puff of it.

        Evidence? I have none. Its just the very first thought my suspicious mind runs to.

        And my very second thought would be in lind with the Taibbi government-by-artificially-induced-panic theory. Maybe there is no big money behind it. Maybe this was just picked out as the next “seemingly plausible” panic issue to get the public even more trained to responding to panics . . . the way kittens respond to a laser pointer dot pointed at the wall.

        1. Chowdry

          And banning gas here lowers value of Russian gas on world market.
          Like self sustainability in food versus crops for export, North American gas becomes an export crop while we have to build nuclear plants, part of the defense establishment, to make up for it.

  3. Tbone

    Ya – no.
    Northern CA here, powers’ gone out days at a time here over the years.
    Still had hot water/warm food.
    The push for electric cars/cooking will mandate for way more kilowatts to be produced.
    Are any adults in charge?

  4. wolfepenguin

    Well…this is just another form of anti-China bashing. As you know, Asians are more likely to enjoy gas stoves in cooking…so Amurika can’t have that ;). If non-Chinese Asians or gas-stove loving folks everywhere are dissatisfied…collatoral damage..

  5. Paradan

    So for like 200,000 years we’ve been burning crap in our little man-made caves with insufficient ventilation. Where is the mention of childhood asthma in the historical record? You can’t tell me that natural gas is worse then peat, coal, charcoal and firewood.

    1. Paradan

      Oh, and what is causing the other 85% of childhood asthma, like maybe that’s a better target? It’s just electric cars all over again. Minor fix with pumped up virtue soothing.

      1. t

        Years of Roach and rat poop in the ceilings and walls, off-gassing from various cheap-quick repairs, old paints, mold and mildew in old ACand window unit AC, bad ventilation, whatever local industry spews into the air on the wrong side of the tracks….

        1. Quantum Future

          Commentator T – Indoor Air quality is certainly a problem when it comes to mold and VOCs from building materials used today.

          The energy crisis of the late 70’s were all geared toward energy saving and subsequent building materials, HVAC systems etc.

          There is a good book called Mold Free Building written by the founder of NORM Doug Hoffman.

          I had a cert class for indoor air quality, he was there. Sharp guy, good hearted as well.

    2. Braden

      To put this another way, the most common sources of childhood asthma are from particulate matter in the air from car tailpipes and large industrial emitters like power plants. The air quality in urban areas is already poor enough to produce unhealthy levels of air pollution at regular intervals throughout the year. It’s unlikely that researchers sufficiently untangled the added contribution of indoor gas stoves from the larger impact of poor outdoor air quality, especially since the use of gas is very common in older apartment units that tend to be located near industrial areas (think south side of Chicago). This was most likely a bit of backscratching by Trumka to help boost American-made electric induction stoves. It’s like the war against incandescent light bulbs. A halfhearted attempt is made to claim some sort of policy high ground while an American company tries to sell you something you didn’t need.

  6. Judith

    Meanwhile, in East Palestine, Ohio humans and other living creatures are being exposed to toxic chlorine gas.

      1. fresno dan

        where are all the revised regulations to assure that rail hauling of hazardous material is up to snuff???? Oh yeah, that would cost the wealthy – therefore the equivalient of poison gas can be hauled through communities with no consequences…

      2. BeliTsari

        The PANIC is a totally separate, manufactured distraction from the unifying theme. I’m in NYC. Natural gas boiler conversion mandated in HOW many ancient apartment buildings, from horrific fuel oil. Gas is fracked in PA, so super-delegate landlords simply move their carbon-footprints into death o’ disparity, deplorable Cancer Valley, Frackistan (Yay, we WON!) I’d, personally NOT have kids, or CATS hanging around all day, every day (nor, would I work in a kitchen, factory or around constantly burning radium flavored fracked Marcellus gas?) It’s like NC’s penchant for knocking “organics” once you’re aware of shit like herbicide dessication of grains, legumes, tubers AND sinsemilla?

        Party ON, folks.

  7. Pat

    Let’s pretend Dems trying to appear to do something again. Quite obviously a memo went out. We had Hochul go all out about banning gas here. She had legislation that would ban furnaces, water heaters, ranges, and stove tops all in a time frame earlier than would have Medicare able to negotiate drug prices for over ten percent of the drugs in common use by seniors. New construction would apply in a couple of years. But the thing that got the medias attention was gas cooking. Largely because restaurants and chefs are media darlings and they got that this would kill their businesses. And a whole lot of people whose electrical bills have just jumped almost as much as filling up their cars also got a whole lot of problems with the plan.
    There are lots of reasons this is stupid here, not the least of which that our electrical generation is strained, and going all in on renewables is unlikely to be able to meet our current needs, much less increased usage.
    But they are also stupid, for instance Hochul or her social media team tweeted a photo about something else that clearly showed her professional gas range in the background. It got spread more for the range than the original tweet subject. And the viral message was not just the hypocrisy but the sense that there would always be loopholes in the law for the powerful. Conservation and higher costs for the plebes and life as usual for the important folks.

    1. Sgt Oddball

      …B-b-but, just like Bill Gates jet-setting between endless climate confabs in his four Lear jets, Hochul and alla them guys are *part of the solution*, so we can all just cut them some slack, right?… – *Right*!?… (/s)

    1. jbc

      Inductive stoves are certified for electro magnetic emissions when they are working correctly. Failure modes are not considered.

      Also, nothing is 100% efficient. Where does the waste heat from an inductive cooktop go?

      1. TimH

        Electric heaters are 100% efficient. It’s the maximum entropy.

        The efficiency aspect for any cooker is the transfer of heat to the pot as opposed to ambient air, and inductive should be the best. Gas is efficient if the flame front has much smaller diameter than the pot base.

        1. EricF

          “Electric heaters are 100% efficient.”

          It’s true, the electrical energy radiates as heat in a simple resistance circuit.

          But your electric stove is not the entire circuit. The entire circuit includes the wiring in your house, and the supply line all the way to the power plant.
          Transmission losses are real, and huge. The only practical way to reduce transmission losses is to use less power, they can never be eliminated completely.

          This is not to even mention generation losses.

  8. jbc

    Julia Child covered this in her first book Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

    For top-of-stove cooking you want to switch from very high indeed to very low heat with gradations in between, which a restaurant gas range can provide if you have the space and gas pressure for one. Otherwise a good modern electric cooktop is far better than weak domestic gas burners.

    Modern pro-style gas stoves, the ones with multi-ring high output burners and fine adjustable valves, are so much better than domestic electric stoves it is just silly.

    Of coarse proper ventilation is necessary in any kitchen.

    1. Gregorio

      The problem with modern gas ranges is that they rely on electronics to work, limiting their useful life. We did a kitchen remodel on a 15 year old home in San Diego, and had to scrap a $6k Miele range that was the same age as the home because the “brain” had failed for the third time, and they were no longer available. The new replacement was north of $10k. On the other hand, we just had my wife’s 1942 vintage O’keefe & Merritt, completely rebuilt 2 years ago, now it performs as new, and should be good for another 75 years.

      1. jefemt

        My mom, a wonderful cook whi grew up on a ranch in southern Crowdorado, had a dual oven O’Keefe and Merritt. She also had a Roper later in her downsized home. All mechanical, pilot-burners running 24/7, and a stock pot on very low simmer, like a sourdough starter.
        No electronics. No piezo igniters. No repairs. Ever. Not yer modern Self-licking Ice Cream Cone of modern 3 year and one day failure —cheaper to replace than repair 1000 day appliances.

        1. Other JL

          As an alternative data point, when I was growing up we kept a candle by the range because the oven pilot light just wouldn’t stay on. When we wanted to use the oven we’d light the candle with a stovetop burner, turn on the oven gas, and light the oven with the candle.

          Better than “my oven won’t work because the electronics are broken and irreplaceable” by far, but we shouldn’t pretend these appliances are maintenance-free.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Wellie, my NYC apartment had a Royal Rose, a gas stove last made in 1962. Worked like a champ. Sure it was pulled out to renovate the kitchen when I left in 2019. Point is those old gas stoves can last a very long time and perform well.

      2. britzklieg

        Watching my Cordon Bleu chef friend, Henrietta, prepare 5 star food on her always-on Aga cooker in Scotland was revelatory. And even in the summer, it provided added warmth to the kitchen during those surprisingly chilly neo-nordic mornings and nights. Warmest place in the house by far.

      3. agent ranger smith

        Someone could make a good living if they had the skills to strip the digital cooties out of a $6k Miele range that just had a stroke and turn it into a stroke-proof dumm-range.

        I think that stripping the digital cooties out of home appliances and turning them into analog dumm appliances will be a growth craft business in the mid to long range future.

  9. Willie

    Gas stoves defy the Internet of Things (IoT) , or, how I learned to stop resisting and came to love surveillance?

    1. bdy

      ^Good CT IMO, when you consider the desired PTB end state of license rather than own for all appliances, tools, vehicles, software and heavy equipment. Can’t let those ranges fall through the cracks.

  10. linda amick

    EVERY serious cook knows gas stoves are a must. Electric stoves have virtually NO variability by comparison. This is just the latest insane proposal put forth by people who know nothing about cooking. Gas stoves have been used forever. Why NOW are they being accused of contamination? Critical thinkers should be asking this question.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Well, I try to be a serious cook. I really do, and sometimes I succeed.

      As for this wannabe serious cook, it’s gas stoves, all day and every day.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to make some lunch. Because this slender Arizonan is hungry!

    1. Marcus from Minnesota

      Recall that CO2 is the source of global heating, a prospective and by all scientific accounts, imminent catastrophe that has potential for human extinction. Call me doomist, but it seems to me that we want to get rid of nearly all anthropogenic (fossil) sources of CO2 and CH4 as soon as we can given all the constraints. Policies that push renewable electric uses for cooking can only help that. Sure, lobbyists and the always-greedy are part of it but we gotta keep our eye on the blue ball that is our only home.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        It seems to me that we want to get rid of nearly all anthropogenic (fossil) sources of CO2 and CH4 as soon as we can given all the constraints.

        Aye. But that’s not what being argued. Instead, the Biden administration is suddenly arguing that gas stoves are an excessive source of indoor air pollution, even though we’ve been paying attention to air quality issues for 50+ years and the EPA hasn’t bothered to regulate gas stove pollution for the previous nine administrations in a row.

        Now there have been municipalities that have banned new gas hookups for reasons of climate change, and I must commend them on being intellectually consistent, even through I suspect their grids aren’t up to the task of powering all of the electric replacements. It’s certainly better than NYC did back in 2019, when they got into a public spat with natural gas providers who refused to provide more connections because their pipelines were already running at max capacity. I remember thinking to myself, “Make up your minds, dammit. Do you want people to use more natural gas or less?”

      2. Rob

        Climate is the averaging of weather. Averages are models, useful for some things but not adequate for specifics. The average high temp for Minneapolis is 55 and the average low is 37 according to

        That average is not useful for determining what clothes to wear in January or July.

        Similarly, I do not think that CO2 is a primary factor determining weather or climate. Single factor analysis is hopelessly wrong every time in any complex and dynamic system.

        Climate Change (TM) is a grift like most “issues” in our culture wars.

        I am not intending to attack a person, just criticizing what I think are bad ideas and info. I could be wrong, but I try to show my work and show evidence to support my claims.

        I completely agree on keeping our eye on the blue ball of our planet.
        I am more concerned about pollution in our air and water than CO2.
        Thanks, Rob

      3. Don

        My Mexican kitchen, like close to 100% of Mexican kitchens, uses gas. Electricity is way too expensive and/or unreliable and/or just plain unavailable. I expect that this is the reality in most of the world.

        I don’t think that turning this issue into a panic is viable, either globally or just in Canada and the US. Creating middle class, too-much-time-on-your-hands anxiety might be doable (my sister is fretting about it), but for the most part, people have enough real problems and will just do what they gotta do.

  11. Not Again

    This same government that is so concerned about “childhood asthma” is the same one that lets Flint kids drink from the faucet, sends them to Iraq (Ukraine) to die in a senseless war and allows a couple tons of fentanyl into the country every day.

    Pardon me if I question their concern.

  12. JP

    Aging vegetarians cooking with all electric have house with toxic levels of methane! We must act now by banning vegetables. Would someone please open a window.

  13. Rip Van Winkle

    Nothing personal intended, but secession would seem to be an equitable solution – or dissolution.

  14. John R Moffett

    As a biologist I find it interesting that anyone is advocating for combustion in a closed living space. Yes, humans have burned wood in enclosed living spaces for millennia, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. In fact, we know it isn’t healthy at all. Even without combustion, indoor air can get pretty dirty, especially in the winter when everything is closed up. So while there is no need for panic, there also is some need for concern.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      I find it interesting that anyone is advocating for combustion in a closed living space.

      I certainly wouldn’t advocate it on a routine basis, but there are situations where it can certainly be useful. One is power outages during extremely cold weather.

      My wife and I ran into this back in January, when the “bomb cyclone” brought in 5 degF weather accompanied by 40 MPH winds. We lost power fairly early in the event, and the strong winds pushed cold air sideways through the house, largely bypassing the extra insulation we have in the attic. Temperatures inside fell rapidly, and our pipes would have frozen if we hadn’t fired up the unvented gas logs in the basement.

      Now for the record, unvented gas logs stink, and I mean that literally, as I could smell the NOx and unburned hydrocarbons wafting in the air. I also had to run around the house to change batteries in every CO meter I could find, lest we inadvertently asphyxiate ourselves. It was no fun at all.

      But we had neighbors who were forced to abandon their homes, only to return two days later to find them flooded from burst pipes. They paid many thousands of dollars in repairs and may now have black mold growing in the carpet and walls, a scenario that’s even worse than brief NOx and unburned hydrocarbon exposure.

    2. chris

      Unless you’re on a space station, there is no such thing as an enclosed living space. That’s part of the problem here, and also one of the reasons why this entire discussion is frustrating for people who deal with these things on a regular basis.

      Any appliance relying on fuel for a combustion process needs to make sure that it has sufficient supply air, and depending on the rate of fuel use, sufficient air changes per hour to accommodate the products of combustion. They also need to make sure that the orifices are clean and the avaliable fuel pressure is correct. They should verify that things like drip legs are installed properly and they should regularly examine the performance of the appliance to make sure it is burning as intended and tune it if it is not. Things like range hoods can help with a lot of this, or hurt!, depending on what kind of appliance you have and the rate that the vent is taking air out of the room. These are all things that people living in single family, detached property arrangements can handle easily. Many don’t – but they could if they wanted to.

      The problem comes when you put these type of things in a multi-unit building where people don’t own or don’t have access to the common areas and mechanical areas required for maintenance. Now you can’t control the details of the gas supply, you can’t ensure you’ll always have sufficient combustion air, you may or may not be able to install and use a range hood, you may never see what kind of piping or supply lines are upstream of your appliance, etc. And even if you do all that right, if your bum neighbor below or beside you doesn’t, it can still affect your breathing air. And in the event that every tenant is great at this, none of it matters if your apartment is right next to a highway or a factory emitting fine particulates.

      But the people in those situations don’t have any control over those things. There is no law requiring landlords to be concerned about indoor air quality. There’s also no money to pay for most of these landlords to purchase entirely new appliances even at discounts and no funds for completely changing over all the buildings from electric + gas to electric only. I haven’t done an exhaustive survey of load requirements but I’m willing to bet there is insufficient power supply for all the multi-unit buildings in most metro areas that people are looking at switching from gas to electric ranges to do so.

      So this entire panic is like dancing about architecture. Silly people flailing about as if their random movements mean anything. If they really cared, let’s talk about improving quality of life and standards for renters. Let’s stop permitting institutional real estate investors from raising rates and lowering maintenance standards. This gas stove issue is one of the more stupid panic driven outbursts of the last 20 years.

  15. LY

    I consider the current hysteria/ overreaction to the ban proposal as virtue signaling and a backlash against public health. There are good reasons to improve regulations around gas stoves, starting with ventilation. Until the economics and power grid improves, it will be like smoking or fire codes, where progress is gradual and over time.

    As for cooking with them, induction works better for the vast majority of applications, like with boiling, braising, and sautéing. I have a portable induction which is only 120V and for most applications it beats my underpowered gas range. It doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and gives me precise temperature control. The power draw is no more than A/C or an electric kettle.

    My own dream setup would be mostly induction with one gas burner for when you need flames (wok hei, roasting peppers).

    Adam Ragusea, a cooking vlogger/podcaster who digs into food science (he reads published papers and gets scientists to appear) has a video on how they are “weak, dirty, dangerous”. He also pointed out the broken public health discourse.

  16. samoan

    There’s no way that environmental or health concerns are behind this push. It has to be some large moneyed interest.

    Glyphosate was proven very harmful to both health and the environment years ago, but it is still unregulated by the FDA because Monsanto has to make money.

    1. jefemt

      glyphosate is still stacked floor to ceiling in every hardware and farm and ranch I visit.
      The constant head-shaking marvels of modern ‘capitalism’, American exceptional style, keep my head-shaking neck muscles in shape like a Navy Seal fresh after getting commissioned!

  17. Kengferno

    Everything is fear. Fear is how our society functions. This isn’t new, it’s just more blatant. We go from the book 1984 being a cautionary tale to it being used as a playbook. Surprised Tiabbi didn’t use that as a framing device for his article. Fear is all-encompassing, From the news to politics to entertainment. Marilyn Manson said it best in Bowling For Columbine:
    You’re watching television, you’re watching the news. You’re being pumped full of fear. There’s fires there’s there’s AIDs there’s murder. Cut to commercial. Buy the Acura.

    Here’s the whole scene. It’s really brilliant.

  18. Paris

    Oh please. We are constantly poisoned, day in day out, by pesticides, big city air pollution, dirty water, etc. And now the holier-than-thou are worried about some minor thing just to exercise their power over the sheeple. Enough’s enough. I don’t even own a gas stove but I’ll join the trenches with you guys. The government should not have a say in what I decide to buy for my own house. It’s war!

  19. King

    Mind you, as much as I liked using a gas stove in New York City, I do not feel deprived by no longer having one. The reason for taking interest in the anti-gas stove push is that its sudden emergence as a Biden priority suggests a big money interest must be behind it. But if so, it’s remained well hidden so far.

    Maybe, ‘sudden emergence’ is a little strong. Its been moving up for years.

    + Removing Legal Barriers to Building Electrification, October 29, 2020
    The important term is ‘obligation to serve’.

    + Feb 2021 Poll – “The public is split on whether they would back banning natural gas in new construction in their own communities, with 44% in support and 37% opposed.”

    + Sep 2021 – What one city’s struggle to ban natural gas says about the challenge of electrifying buildings

    Or maybe NOT

    + ‘Huge amount of money’ in climate law could spawn gas bans
    “Billions of dollars in new federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act are set to flow to building owners and residents who swap out gas boilers, stoves and water heaters for electric-powered technologies. The dollars come on top of city-level policies in at least seven states banning fossil fuels in new buildings, including dozens of municipalities in California that followed the city of Berkeley in enacting the nation’s first gas ban in 2019. New York City, Seattle and much of the state of Washington followed with similar measures.”

    Additionally, the natural gas producers actions during storm Uri may have resulted in a big windup for a backlash. As the school board and local government individuals responsible for dealing with those bills are slowly able to push back. Knowing the gas company is going to preform their version of the medical establishment’s cashectomy is quite clarifying. Seeing the extra $20 on my own gas bill last month for Uri didn’t make me want to keep my gas stove. My understanding is the Texas laws haven’t changed so the gas suppliers still aren’t under to same obligation to fulfill their contracts that local electric utilities are. Also note the reaction to the Nordstream 1/2 pipelines. And that’s before talking about the climate/health impacts.

  20. Peter Dorman

    I agree with JRM that indoor combustion is always a potential pollution hazard. It’s interesting in that respect that efforts to improve indoor air quality in poor countries often begin with programs to shift people from wood or dung stoves, or just triangles of stones, to gas cookers. (I once supervised a thesis about a program like this in E Africa. One obstacle is that cooking smoke serves a cultural purpose in some societies.) And it’s true in my experience that gas is preferable for precision cooking for multiple reasons: the best possible dynamics, the ability to heat the side of a pan or wok when necessary, and the interplay of fine adjustment and visual feedback — being able to see directly how much heat is being delivered.

    But the pollution problem is real. It would be reasonable for the government to require that all new gas kitchen appliances be installed with a sufficiently powerful hood that vents externally. We have one of those, and it’s instructive to look at the filter from time to time — stuff you’d be breathing if the system weren’t in place.

    Beyond that, the best government response would be to support research and product development for multifactor indoor air quality monitoring (which should become standard at some point) and devices to mitigate air quality impacts. The climate change aspect, as my book argues, should be dealt with upstream, limiting society-wide use of fossil fuels at a level that permits most of us the opportunity to choose our own substitutions. (Don’t assume you know what this means unless you’ve read the argument.)

    Taibbi is almost right, except that what we are getting is government-by-attention-cascade rather than government-by-panic in particular. It’s funny because he diagnosed the problem rather clearly in Hate Inc. It’s really about the absorption of politics by social media and social media by attention capitalism.

  21. Mo's Bike Shop

    Wow, it is really hard to get the big G to give any search results on the plasma flame cooktops shown in that twitter video. I got woodstoves. Had to go to Allibaba to find anything. Is this somehow a politically verboten subject I was not aware of? Or is it just AI ignoring anything new because it’s not in the training set?

    1. digi_owl

      Could be that they are a fire hazard of sorts.

      Best i can tell, it uses a table top induction top as a base and add the spikes on top. Spikes that when exposed to the magnetic field of the top produce plasma jets. I’m just surprised those jets are warm enough to cook food on.

      Quite likely repeated use will eat away at the spikes, causing them to produce various side effects.

      Alibaba seems like the proverbial wall things get thrown at, health and safety be damned, to see if it sticks.

  22. tevhatch

    Glade, Febreze, and PFAS chemical coatings on everything. Something’s burning on the Senate kitchen stove, and it’s not natural gas.

    1. tevhatch

      BTW: Richard Trumka Jr., is the son of AFL–”CIA” Don, Richard Trumka Sr. God knows what’s cooking.

  23. Phichibe

    Yes, I was baffled when this surfaced as an issue last month, and first thought it was Onion-style parody. I will admit to wondering over the years about where the exhaust goes from my gas stove and oven, but to issue to demarche to replace one of the ubiquitous features in probably half the houses in America on the basis of a *very* weak signal detected in a meta-analysis is crazy. There are communities and pockets where people of much higher rates of asthma (inner cities, for example) but I and everyone I knew grew up in houses with gas stoves, gas furnaces, gas water heaters, and we didn’t have high asthma rates or other morbidities.

    This is such a tone-deaf move politically speaking, can you imagine the Tea Party types still out there seizing on this as another example of what George Wallace called “pointy-headed liberals”? I generally support what Thatcherites derided as the “nanny-state” but this would be picking a totally unnecessary fight, to the distraction of the masses from our very real problems such as the huge homeless populations around the country, and of course the insanity that is our health care system. Every adult has learned the necessity of picking your fights, and this one is just plain dumb.


  24. Lex

    While there are particulate concerns with gas stoves, these would only be in situations where there is no exhaust ventilation installed. Of course the problem is that there are all sorts of indoor air quality concerns with any cooking that goes a little too far. If you’re frying things (pan or deep fried) on any stove you’ve got all sorts of particulate chemistry happening with your indoor air. So the appropriate solution to this problem, if we’re really going to put this particular problem high enough on the list of problems to actually do something about it, is to mandate installation of appropriate exhaust ventilation for cooktops.

    But at the end of the day and as others in this thread have pointed out, the problem with indoor air quality and health effects isn’t gas stoves. In many cases it’s about outdoor air quality or a host of other indoor air quality issues and environmental exposures to a whole other host of chemical compounds.

  25. elkern

    This issue has been such a fiasco that it might even be a False Flag by the GOP’s Fossil Fuel backers. The issue is a perfect boon for Right Wing Media, which has of course responded with even louder fear-mongering (Big Government is gonna take away your stove and make you eat raw vegetables!). Far worse, they’re weaving it into their framework that Global Warming is just a Plot fabricated by Eggheads & Democrats to make life less fun; sadly, in this case, it kinda rings true.

    The obvious explanation – cui bono – is lobbying, but by whom? Big electric power corps would have the money for this, but it’s hard to imagine that they really want a big fight with the (more powerful) Fossil Fuel sector. The Induction Stove lobby can’t have enough money to do this on their own… but Vulture Capital does; maybe some well-connected Hedge Fund(s) have made a $Zillion bet on Induction Stoves?

    1. agent ranger smith

      Well . . . . any gas not used in America can be compressed and sold overseas. So there is a future potential big-money interest in play and at work.

      1. elkern

        Which implies that the Oil/Gas Lobby is behind this, for profit, not [just] political gain? Seems far-fetched.

        Compressing, shipping, and de-compressing NatGas costs money. That makes sense as long as Europe rejects Russian gas, but that won’t last. Hard to imagine that Fossil Fuel Corps are stupid enough to assume that US sanctions on Russia, Iran, etc, will last long enough to justify the expense of building new plants.

  26. Louis Fyne

    Practical point: natural gas stoves and the old-fashioned electric coils are idiot-proof when it comes to durability/reliability cost.

    Induction ranges, when they work, are great. When they fail, they fail $$$$$$—same malady that affects most modern appliances, any appliance is only as good as the control-circuit board (which is a component prone to you-get-what-you-pay-for low-cost outsourcing).

    And once you add up the cost of a new board and repair labor, one is pretty much near the cost of a new range.

    And it’s been a long time since I lived with an electric coil, but supposedly electric coils are a much bigger fire risk and child hazard.

    1. agent ranger smith

      An electric coil could be 5 degrees less hot than visibly red and still be quite hot. And you wouldn’t know unless you put your hand on it. And toddlers like to put their hands on things.

  27. Chet G

    Over too many years, my popovers came out better and more consistently in a gas oven than an electric oven.

    Overall, if there need be panic for the sake of panic, how about debating between how many democratic angels can dance on a pin and how many authoritarian angels can dance on a pin.

  28. Jeremy Grimm

    The u.s. government is become a bad caricature of bad government. Is the Biden executive branch making a back-handed effort to support Trump’s efforts to dismantle the EPA?

  29. c_heale

    It seems strange that they can’t even accept the minimum precautions (masking, better ventilation) to deal with Covid-19, and yet suddenly something which, whatever dangers it has, we’ve been living with a long time, is a major problem.

    It’s much easier to disconnect an electricity supply remotely, than gas. There is a lot of controversy in the UK currently regarding “smart” electric meters, due to electric companies breaking into people’s homes to install them, and which can be disconnected by the companies themselves.
    They have then been disconnecting people who have had trouble paying bills (there is a law about giving people time to sort out their financial problems before disconnecting which is not being followed by the electric companies, if I recall correctly).

    The comment above about the Internet of Things seems to be accurate. The current elite seem to be obsessed about controlling every aspect of human life, and it all seems to be related the the Internet, and computer technology, from digital currencies, to social credit.

    1. elkern

      Yeah, thx for the reminder. I was shocked to recently learn that some/many British (and other European?) houses/apartments have coin-operated meters. OTOH, perhaps I should be more surprised that this hasn’t caught on in USA (yet). Maybe TPTB know that Americans are ornery enough to mess with the machinery, whether or not they can do it without blowing up the building.

  30. JL

    Two cents of anaecdota if I may. Back under the Carter administration their was a fair amount of funding for research on maters of energy efficiency and pollution as well. Yes, I am an old one like, I presume, most of the commentators, here. Of course, those initiatives were rapidly dismantled by the Reagan Revolution. It just so happened that the tenant across the hall from me ran a program at a national laboratory that was studying gas appliances. One day in l980, when we crossed in the hallway he told me with rather wide eyes just how much crap actually came out of a gas stove, irrespective the apparent clean, odorless and smokeless appearance of their flames and that he was going to get rid of his.

    So, I have known of this for forty-two years and I have not changed from gas myself. I have done much to avoid many of the myriad poisons and health traps out there, but in the spirit everyone assessing their own risks and tolerances that has been mandated us, the interior combustion device is not one I have personally acted on. My apartment is even older and leakier then me, so I have some leeway here.

    If one were to make a hierarchy of administrative measures, bans and strategies of transition, this may not necessarily be the highest priority. I personally might go for a ban on fragrances in laundry products and soi dit air-fresheners which just seem to ramp up in pervasiveness and toxicity as a first out the regulatory door way.

    But the issue of gas appliances is not simply an ex-nihlo out of the air connivance even if, perhaps, impetus for acting on it now owes something to extraneous interests and maneuvers of the moment. I’m not at all committed to the all-electric future, which in 100% mirror to the l950’s version, is not driven by a nuclear-powered too cheap to meter ideology, but rather something of its opposite. Yet, there are rational arguments and considerations on its side in terms of climate change and building construction and yes, health.

    Many localities have been banning gas hook ups in new construction throughout the country. This has indeed happened as organically over the past decade as much anything does in the administrative realm. Will it be rolled out effectively, rationally, and with its intended results? No of course not given the same said sociopolitical and administrative systems in place today. Even presuming a sane and rational social structure, a lot of these issues of reformation would be tricky, partial and contradictory.

    On the order of outrages, horrors and existential emergencies, fighting on this hill is not, at least for me, at the top of the list. But if one were to, I think it would be correct to do so immanently and in terms of how this should, or should not, fit into the questions the better and worse ways of building and living.

    There are no shortage of matters, crimes and worse, ‘blunders’, to rage and rail at. I’m pretty good at doing so. So its not the voice of denunciation that I am cautioning against by the way.

  31. jrkrideau

    Re the article Yves referenced. I have not read it but it seems to be published in a journal published by a slightly dodgy publishing firm, MDPI. Beall’s list does not classify it as a predatory publisher but it has a special note about it.

    Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) – I decided not to include MDPI on the list itself. However, I would urge anyone that wants to publish with this publisher to thoroughly read this wiki article detailing their possible ethical/publishing problems, and a recent article discussing their growth.

    The publication history is a wee bit quick:
    Received: 4 November 2022 / Revised: 12 December 2022 / Accepted: 14 December 2022 / Published: 21 December 2022

    This is not to say that there is any wrong with the paper. Authors can find themselves in some strange journals by accident but I would read with a critical eye.

  32. elkern

    When I lived in Philly, there was a house that blew up a few blocks away from where we lived (Germantown). Turned out some jerks broke in and stole the stove – without bothering to turn off the gas. House filled up with gas, eventually found a spark/flame, and Boom!

    Maybe there’s good reason not to trust Americans with fuel-air explosives.

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