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Monday, January 23, 2023

OPINION:

Democrats in Washington feel burned, thanks to the loose lips of a Biden appointee.

Consumer Product Safety Commission member Richard Trumka Jr. recently announced that the CPSC would take a hard look at gas-powered stoves with an eye toward regulating them, or even banning them altogether. He again raised the possibility of a ban in an interview this month.


Natural gas stoves have been used for well over a century. These efficient and safe appliances are found in almost 40% of U.S. homes. Many chefs value gas cooking for its cost, speed, reliability and precision. Plenty of families do, too. The idea of banning them is ridiculous.

America’s natural gas reserves are among the world’s largest. The shale revolution gave this country access to a century’s worth of this affordable domestic fuel.

Greater use of natural gas benefits both our energy security and our environment. It’s one of the main reasons U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are more than 17% below their peak of 15 years ago. Even the climate-fixated European Union now recognizes natural gas as climate-friendly. President Biden and the Democrats don’t.

In his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to eliminate natural gas, oil and coal, which account for four-fifths of our energy supply. He’s intent on keeping that promise.

Since he was sworn in, the president has done everything he can to undermine U.S. natural gas production. He’s severely restricted production on federal land, tied projects up in red tape, and raised taxes. Energy prices for American families have skyrocketed.

This gas range fiasco is part of the Democrats’ larger war on natural gas. More than 50 California counties and cities have moved to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings. In 2021, New York City banned gas connections for new buildings. Now their governor wants to ban them statewide.

My Democratic colleagues in the Senate had a chance to fight this trend. In 2021, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee debated the president’s infrastructure bill. I offered an amendment to make it harder to block natural gas hookups in new buildings. Every Democrat voted against it.

The Democrats’ goal is clear. It’s to prevent Americans from using one of the cleanest, safest, most reliable and most affordable energy sources.

The last two years have shown the president isn’t worried about driving up energy costs. Eliminating gas stoves would add to the burden this administration and Democrats in Congress have imposed on families.

Gas stoves are less dangerous than the alternatives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, they showed a lower risk of cooking fires, deaths and associated losses than other ranges.

Claims that gas stoves pollute also don’t hold up. Even the Environmental Protection Agency says gas stoves “burn very cleanly, emitting very little pollution.” A 2013 study in the scientific journal The Lancet found “no evidence of an association between the use of gas as a cooking fuel and either asthma symptoms or asthma diagnosis.” Many other studies also show no connection.

This has never been about safety. It is part of a larger effort to kill natural gas.

The secretary of energy is in Twitter videos promoting induction ranges to replace your gas stove. Induction stoves cost a lot more than gas ranges. They also require the purchase of special pots and pans, adding to the cost of switching over. Cash-strapped families are as likely to do this as buying an expensive electric vehicle.

The Democrats’ war on natural gas is like their other efforts to eliminate fossil fuels. It involves eliminating the option of safe, reliable and affordable technology and replacing it with a complicated and costly alternative.

People should be free to make purchasing decisions based on what’s right for them. It shouldn’t be up to some political appointee.

The president has boasted of an “all of government” approach to drive oil, natural gas and coal out of the economy. But just about everything he wants to use instead is more expensive, less reliable or less safe. Often it depends on key materials supplied by foreign adversaries, like China or Russia.

That’s exactly the wrong approach. Instead, Washington needs to get out of the way. American workers can unleash a range of energy sources: Coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and more. They all play a role in restoring American energy preeminence.

The White House and the CPSC both now say that they have no intention of implementing Mr. Trumka’s half-baked idea. Until Mr. Biden and his appointees abandon their support of efforts to ban natural gas hookupss nationwide, there is no reason to believe them.

• John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.


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