By Larry Andrews and Garth Selden
National conversations regarding kitchen controversies have typically been relegated to reality competition shows like “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” However, earlier this month a federal bureaucrat’s call to consider national bans on gas stoves across our country evoked strong opposition from bipartisan leading members of Congress and anti-ban assurances from the White House.
According to a Jan. 12 story posted on CNN.com, reporter Matt Egan wrote, Richard Trumka Jr., a U.S. Consumer Product Safety commissioner, “set off a firestorm this week by suggesting the agency could ban gas stoves because they have been linked to childhood asthma.”
That same article quoted a White House statement saying, “The President does not support banning gas stoves – and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is independent, is not banning gas stoves.”
This wasn’t the first time Trumka, who was appointed to the commission by President Joe Biden, had spoken about his aggressive agenda.
In a Dec. 14 story by Rachel Frazin of the Hill, Trumka is quoted as saying, “This public request for information is the first step in what could be a long journey toward regulating gas stoves,” he said. The article continues, “We could get a regulation on the books before this time next year,” he said. Also in the story, “Trumka, who is the son of the late labor organizer of the same name, called an outright ban on new gas stoves ‘a real possibility.’ “
And the White House isn’t the only one pushing back. Eastern Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was also quick to respond. Her official statement characterized the Trumka proposal as, “It is not about public safety. It is about telling the American people the federal government knows best and will decide what kind of car they can drive, how they can heat their house, and now how they’re allowed to cook food for their families. Natural gas is critical for millions of Americans. Forcing people to switch to expensive alternatives will only further increase costs on hardworking American families while disproportionately harming the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Banning natural gas is extremely unpopular and efforts have time and time again failed to gain support by citizens and lawmakers in the city of Spokane, the Washington state Legislature, Congress, and now the White House.
Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs has repeatedly stated that the council does not and will not support banning natural gas. In the Washington state Legislature in 2021 House Bill 1084, that would have effectively banned natural gas in new construction, didn’t even receive a hearing the Appropriations Committee.
Despite low or no citizen or political support at the local, state and federal levels why do proposed bans on natural gas continue?
The answer is that anti-gas lobbyists are bypassing the public legislative process and have set their sights on bureaucrats like Trumka. They’ve also set their sights on building codes, with the Rocky Mountain Institute calling them “one of the most powerful tools for reducing carbon emissions.”
RMI’s proposals to require the use of electric heat pumps in new homes and commercial buildings have passed Washington State’s Building Code Council – despite thousands of objections from the public – and will go into effect on July 1 of this year. Gas furnaces and water heaters will not be allowed in new construction throughout Washington. The SBCC is comprised of 15 unelected citizens appointed by the governor and our Legislature has no oversight.
While the council did not outlaw natural gas appliances, it is highly unlikely that gas lines will be hooked up to new homes, commercial buildings, restaurants, schools, etc., because the space and water heating energy source must now be electricity to comply with the new codes. This is effectively a ban on gas stoves or any other natural gas fueled appliance.
As citizens and consumers, we need to demand that our state legislators stand in strong opposition to the state-level bureaucratic bypass with the same bipartisan outrage that we are seeing at the national level. It is time that our state legislature passes reforms to reign in the SBCC and other bureaucratic agencies. If they can’t handle the heat, they need to get out of our kitchens.
Larry Andrews is the owner/president of Spokane-based Andrews Mechanical Inc. that has served the greater Spokane area for over 30 years through HVAC/R and plumbing equipment sales and servicing. Andrews lives in Hillyard. Garth Selden is the third-generation owner/president of Country Homes Power. Garth resides in the Mead area.