The Biden appointee who threatened to ban gas stoves is teasing new regulations on the suddenly controversial appliances, which he says pose "hidden hazards" to American consumers.
Consumer Product Safety commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. voted Wednesday to seek public input on gas stoves, a move that marks the first step in the commission's regulatory process. Trumka went on to applaud the vote in a statement, calling it "an important milestone on the road to protecting consumers from potential hidden hazards in their homes—the emissions from gas stoves."
If Trumka's language sounds familiar, that's likely because it mirrors comments the federal regulator made in January, when he called gas stoves a "hidden hazard" that could be banned. After those comments prompted a political firestorm, both Trumka and the White House walked back the threat, with Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the administration "does not support banning gas stoves."
In the weeks following the cooking appliance catastrophe, however, the Biden administration and its appointees have taken a number of steps to limit gas stove use in the United States. In addition to Wednesday's Consumer Product Safety Commission vote, the Energy Department last month released an analysis of its proposed cooking appliance efficiency regulations, which it acknowledged would ban half of all gas stoves on the U.S. market from being sold. The home appliance industry responded by arguing that the regulations would actually nullify 96 percent of the gas stove market, citing a December Energy Department test that saw 20 of 21 gas stove models fail to meet the proposed rule's efficiency standards.
"It's like they're in such a rush to regulate these products, and they're trying to cover their tracks," Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers vice president Jill Notini said of the department's analysis. "But they're doing an incredibly poor job of it. We've never seen this level of sloppy analysis from DOE before."
The White House did not return questions on whether the president would support new gas stove regulations. Consumer Product Safety Commission chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric said that while the agency's call for public input "does not constitute any regulatory action or ban," the "chronic hazards that can arise from toxic emissions should be studied."
Trumka, whom President Joe Biden appointed to serve as a federal regulator in 2021, launched his call to ban gas stoves after a green energy nonprofit released a controversial study attributing 13 percent of U.S. childhood asthma cases to gas-stove use. The group behind that study, Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, has worked with the Chinese government to achieve an "economy-wide transformation" away from oil and gas, the Washington Free Beacon reported in January.
While it's unclear what regulations will emerge from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's gas stove review, Trumka—who in January promoted an article comparing the appliances to cigarettes—has said any rule would apply to "new products." In a December interview that saw him call an outright ban on gas stoves a "real possibility," Trumka said the commission "could get a regulation on the books before this time next year."