Senators Joe Manchin and Ted Cruz have teamed up across the aisle to introduce a new bill that would stop the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from restricting gas stoves. The legislation, titled the “Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act,” was introduced during a Thursday committee meeting and would ban any future bans of gas cooktops using Federal funds.
“Why?,” you might ask. Well, haven’t you heard: The government is coming for your precious cooktop. President Joe Biden and “the liberals” want to deprive America of well-fried eggs and boiled water. Or at least, that’s what a number of prominent politicians, paid off by the fossil fuel industry, would like you to believe.
“Make no mistake, radical environmentalists want to stop Americans from using natural gas,” said Cruz in a statement about the act. While Manchin said, “the federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
In recent weeks, the White House and the CPSC have both repeatedly reiterated that neither federal body is considering a ban on gas stove. The reassurance follows vague, but widely publicized comments from a CPSC commissioner that insinuated a suite of increased restrictions on gas-powered appliances were on the agency’s discussion table.
Yet even following the clarification that, again, THERE IS NO BAN OF GAS STOVES UNDER FEDERAL CONSIDERATION, the “issue” has remained a rallying point for rightwing ire on the internet and beyond.
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In no universe are members of the CPSC going to storm into your home and remove your kitchen appliances. Even if the commission instituted sweeping restrictions on the devices, and even if that culminated in a ban, such a policy would almost certainly only apply to future products and yet-to-be-sold stoves—as CPSC actions generally do. In fact, the CPSC already has existing regulations on the books surrounding wood and coal burning appliances. And nothing in that policy is focused on penalizing consumers—just holding manufacturers and retailers accountable.
Regardless, Senators Manchin and Cruz are doubling down on the concept that possible restrictions on gas stoves are tantamount to restrictions on the God-given rights of American citizens. “The [CPSC] proposed ban on gas stoves is the latest egregious scaremongering by the Far Left and their Biden administrated allies,” Cruz said in the Thursday news statement. And, forever a shill for fossil fuels, Manchin added, “I can tell you the last thing that would ever leave our house is the gas stove we cook on, and I will continue to fight any overreach by the [CPSC].”
The brief, but broad, act from the two legislators would essentially prevent the CPSC from taking any further action to regulate or restrict stoves. In other words: it would prevent the commission from doing its job of protecting consumers. The proposed prohibition in the two-page bill reads as follows:
No Federal funds may be used by the [CPSC] to regulate an existing or new gas stove as a banned hazardous product under section 8 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2057) or to impose or enforce any consumer product safety standard or rule on existing or new gas stoves under section 7 or 9 of such Act (15 U.S.C. 18 2056 or 2058) that would otherwise result in a prohibition on the use or sale of gas stoves in the United States or would otherwise substantially increase the average price of gas stoves in the United States.
So, it’s not just that the Manchin/Cruz bill would ban total bans, but it would also outlaw any new regulation that could increase the cost of purchasing a gas stove.
Worth noting: though gas stove restrictions would likely have minimal impact on the day to day lives of Americans (aside from improving their indoor air quality), a ban on the appliances would hurt the natural gas industry. Both Cruz and Manchin are big recipients of fossil fuel funding. The West Virginia Senator received more than $1.17 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies last year. Meanwhile, the Texas politician’s gas gains are even more impressive, with $1.5 million in donations from the industry in 2022. But probably, that’s totally unrelated to their political decision making, right?
Though there isn’t actually any nationwide gas stove ban on the table right now, maybe there should be. Already, several cities and municipalities, including New York City and San Francisco, have passed bans on putting gas hookups in new buildings. Gas appliances pose a well-documented and significant health risk, trashing indoor air quality and increasing the risk of childhood asthma, certain cancers, and respiratory disease. Then, on top of the health risk, there’s the climate change consequences of methane emissions and its burned byproducts leaking out into the atmosphere.
All this talk of regulating gas appliances isn’t an assault on American freedom. It’s a good-faith, science-informed effort to protect people from a dangerous and easily avoidable source of pollution exposure. The CPSC is a bipartisan federal body dedicated to shielding consumers from the worst dangers of unfettered capitalism. Manchin and Cruz are prominent politicians who regularly receive funding from the industry facing regulation. Who you opt to trust is up to you.
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