Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric said on Wednesday that the regulatory agency has no plans to prohibit natural gas stoves after one of his colleagues hinted that a ban could be possible.
CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said during an interview with Bloomberg that gas stoves constitute a “hidden hazard” and said “any option is on the table” for banning the popular appliances. Hoehn-Saric posted a statement clarifying that neither he nor the agency is planning to prohibit gas stoves after the comments from Trumka, an appointee of President Joe Biden and the son of former AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, garnered nationwide controversy.
“Over the past several days, there has been a lot of attention paid to gas stove emissions,” Hoehn-Saric remarked. “Research indicates that emissions from gas stoves can be hazardous, and the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards. But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.”
Hoehn-Saric is the principal executive officer of the CPSC, while Trumka is one of the three other commissioners that serve as leaders of the agency, which is charged with “reducing the unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products.” Recent actions from the agency include the imposition of a $19 million civil penalty against Peloton for failing to report a defect in one of its treadmills, as well as the publication of a warning against using certain essential oils from Butterfly Express.
Hoehn-Saric indicated that the CPSC will continue examining the safety of gas appliances. “CPSC is researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks,” he continued. “CPSC also is actively engaged in strengthening voluntary safety standards for gas stoves. And later this spring, we will be asking the public to provide us with information about gas stove emissions and potential solutions for reducing any associated risks.”
Some 38% of American households use gas stoves for cooking, with the figure approaching 70% for states such as California and New Jersey, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The recent regulatory attention toward the appliances follows a letter from Democratic lawmakers expressing concern over their “risks posed to consumers.”
“Statistics show that Black, Latino, and low-income households are more likely to experience disproportionate air pollution,” the letter contended, “either from being more likely to be located near a waste incinerator or coal ash site, or living in smaller homes with poor ventilation, malfunctioning appliances, mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, lead dust, pests, and other maintenance deficiencies.”
Critics of the possible regulatory action say the CPSC has not conducted a meaningful study of the appliances. “Attempts to generate consumer fears with baseless allegations to justify the banning of natural gas is a misguided agenda that will not improve the environment or the health of consumers and would saddle vulnerable populations with significant costs,” the American Gas Association said in a statement.
Democratic lawmakers have also invoked concerns over climate change when discussing phaseouts of gas stoves. Increased adoption of natural gas is nevertheless a significant driver of lower carbon emissions in the United States.