A majority of Americans oppose plans to eliminate natural gas hookups from new buildings, a policy that some liberal states and cities have used to effectively ban gas stoves.
Fifty-one percent of Americans oppose policies that bar new buildings from including gas lines, according to a Pew Research Center poll published Wednesday. While a majority of Democratic voters—68 percent—support those policies, there is not enough liberal support to overcome the overwhelming majority of Republicans who oppose gas bans in new buildings.
The findings come as liberal leaders move forward with plans that would ban gas stoves and other gas-powered appliances in new buildings. Berkeley, Calif., in 2019 became the first U.S. city to enact such a policy, and blue cities such as San Francisco and Seattle went on to follow suit. In May, meanwhile, New York became the first state to ban gas stoves, a "transition" that Democratic governor Kathy Hochul defended.
"Just like we had to go … a long time ago to transition from coal as your energy source, we do have to transition," Hochul said. "This is where our nation has to go eventually." Roughly two months after Hochul made those comments, New York City's Department of Environmental Protection unveiled regulations that could end the use of wood- and coal-fired ovens in the city's historic pizzerias. Those stoves, department spokesman Ted Timbers said, "are among the largest contributors of harmful pollutants in neighborhoods with poor air quality."
While the White House has worked to distance President Joe Biden from unpopular gas stove bans, the administration has in some cases worked to uphold the bans. Biden's Department of Justice and Department of Education earlier this month filed a joint brief in federal court that argues in support of Berkeley's gas stove ban, which has faced legal challenges in the years following its passage. While a federal court in April found that federal law prevents cities and states from restricting natural gas appliances, the Biden administration brief says gas stove bans can move forward because they address "health and safety" concerns rather than energy efficiency, which is under the federal government's purview.
The Biden administration has also targeted gas stoves through regulatory actions. Biden's Energy Department is pushing appliance efficiency regulations that it acknowledges would effectively ban half of all gas stoves on the market. Still, Biden's energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, argued in March that the policy is no big deal, as the "full range of gas stoves is absolutely not affected."
Industry groups and Republican lawmakers disagree with that assessment, pointing toward a December Energy Department test of 21 gas stove models, all but one of which failed to meet the rule's proposed efficiency standards. As a result, groups such as the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers have argued that the regulation would actually nullify 96 percent of gas stoves.
"It's like they're in such a rush to regulate these products, and they're trying to cover their tracks. But they're doing an incredibly poor job of it," association vice president Jill Notini said in February. "We've never seen this level of sloppy analysis from DOE before."
Not all gas stove bans, however, are applied equally. The California city of Palo Alto in May exempted world-famous liberal chef José Andrés from its natural gas ban after landlords for the chef's restaurant warned that Andrés would pull out over the regulation. That restaurant, the landlords' attorney argued, relies on "traditional cooking methods that require gas appliances to achieve its signature, complex flavors."