REPUBLICAN GAS STOVES CULTURE WAR DISTRACTS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, PUBLIC HEALTH, & CLIMATE CONCERNS

FUTILE ATTEMPT PLAYS WITH NEED TO PASS KEY GOVERNMENT FUNDING, COUNTERS CLEAN AIR PROGRESS & PUBLIC INTEREST 

By Annika Larson with contributions from Ashley Sullivan

As Republican interference repeatedly threatens the basic functions of government, House GOP members once again advanced their preformative, out-of-touch agenda; this time, over gas stoves. Their passage of a “rider” – or condition – attached to the $1.2 trillion spending package (appropriations bill) marked the end of the tumultuous process for the 2024 fiscal year. The rider was part of a precarious and unnecessary fight over funding which the GOP carried out for over a year, which often targeted and harmed environmental justice communities by using important policies as bargaining chips. In the rider, they aim to restrict the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from taking any regulatory action to ban gas stoves. This not only removes their ability to do their job – as they are an independent, federal consumer watchdog, tasked with protecting the health of the public from hazardous products –  it also has no basis in reality, as the CPSC never intended to propose such a regulation. It also does nothing more than divert attention from urgent issues: We must pass legislation that ensures clean air for all Americans, particularly those people of color and low-wealth communities facing the worst indoor air quality. House Republicans’ disregard for the time and needs of the American people demonstrates a clear lack of policy direction and a consistent contrarianism to progress. 

People across the U.S., especially those who live in public and affordable housing, deserve elected representatives who put their well-being and public health first. The connection between gas stoves and toxic emissions has been well documented for decades. Gas stoves produce many pollutants known to harm health, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, and benzene (C6H6), a dangerous carcinogen that contributes to unhealthy indoor air quality. This is especially true in public and affordable housing where years of deferred maintenance has resulted in health and safety issues as well as energy inefficient dwellings. In 2023, WE ACT for Environmental Justice published “Out of Gas, In With Justice: Studying the Impacts of Induction Stoves on Indoor Air Quality in Affordable Housing, a first of its kind study to examine carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from a gas to induction stove transition in federally funded public housing in New York City. This research adds to over 50 years of health studies that detail adverse health exposures from gas stoves, including increased prevalence of asthma, respiratory infections, and more.  

The WE ACT ‘Out of Gas’ report showed that residents who cooked with gas stoves were exposed to NO2 concentrations that were 190% higher than those using induction stoves.

Additionally, fossil fuel appliances are fueling the climate crisis. In another recent WE ACT report titled “Outdoor Pollution Is Coming From Inside The House: National Building Pollution Report,” published with the Sierra Club and Physicians for Social Responsibility, national outdoor air pollution data shows the extent of the harm caused to public health and the environment from fossil fuel burning equipment in homes and buildings, including gas stoves. Some statistics from the report underscore that global pollution from the building sector hit a record high in 2022. In the United States, buildings now account for about 40% of total energy consumption and 9% of direct greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and yet they are a largely unregulated sector. Pollutants from appliances burning fossil fuels – including gas stoves – such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), Carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM 2.5) and carbon dioxide (CO2), together harm all three major organ systems of the body. Like with indoor air quality, the disproportionate and adverse impacts of this pollution and emissions source are endured by environmental justice communities and other vulnerable groups.

The Republican rider added recently to the government funding bill focused on a false premise and wasted valuable decision-making time and energy. Research makes clear that gas stove pollution is harmful to human health. In the bigger picture, we need to allow regulators to do their job and review the risks associated with products so that they can safeguard public health, limit pollution in the home, and help save individuals and families their hard-earned income. Legislators must act, especially on behalf of people of color and low-income communities living in public and affordable housing who are disproportionately dealing with poor indoor air quality and are experiencing the worst impacts of the climate crisis. We need real leadership that focuses on creating healthier homes and indoor environments, instead of futile, performative amendments delaying must-pass legislation and threatening dangerous government shutdowns. 

The CPSC is legally required to follow the science and protect consumers from dangerous household products like lead in children’s toys, rockers that suffocate children and carbon monoxide risks from furnaces; consumers rely on them for this purpose. House GOP members attempting to eliminate its ability to do so, and their broader culture war creating misinformation around gas stoves and fossil fuel appliances, set a dangerous precedent. Our elected officials must protect our communities from the profound negative health and climate impacts in places they are supposed to feel safe – in their homes and neighborhoods.


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