In June 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation attempting to address concerns in the fossil fuel industry regarding potential bans on gas stoves. The purpose of HR 1615 and HR 1640 is to limit the authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Department of Energy’s rulemaking authority related to the energy efficiency of appliances. The bills are unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate, and the Biden Administration has no plans to “ban” gas stoves. Both bills are an effort by the Republican majority in the U.S. House to shield the fossil fuel industry from further regulation during a nationwide movement towards electrification.

States and localities are pursuing policies to advance energy efficiency for both economic and health advantages. States like California and New York promote switching to electric appliances and are updating building codes to support fuel-efficient technologies like heat pumps and electric or induction stoves to meet the energy needs of their residents. These efforts are intended to help reduce costs and promote health. Cities across California are updating building codes to advance clean energy by requiring new construction to be fully electrified, in most places, starting in 2023. Also, in 2019, the state of Washington proposed building codes that would have drastically reduced the use of gas stoves in new construction or substantial renovation of residential and commercia buildings -- a landmark ban that was recently put on temporary hold by a federal court.

The current push for these changes in gas appliances and heating and cooling equipment stems from recent reports that gas stoves for cooking are connected to increased rates of asthma among children who live in homes with gas appliances. Studies in 2022 showed a 35 percent prevalence of childhood asthma in U.S. homes and that gas stoves could account for 12 percent of childhood asthma cases. Gas stoves are also linked to carbon monoxide poisoning as noted in a recent recall. The burden of these gases and detrimental health outcomes falls disproportionately on low-income households and often those in public housing. To reduce these disproportionate harms and focus on health equity, government actors must be willing to protect some of the most vulnerable populations in public housing as we discuss in our 2022 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development petition.

Governments at all levels should be concerned with the future of fossil fuels and how to protect the health and wellness of residents. Cities and states will be on the frontlines of leading the movement on public health and energy efficiency. Their efforts can lead to robust research and discussion to inform federal decision makers of future rules and regulations to ensure that the transition to electrification in homes considers the positive health outcomes for more children and families, whether the federal government decides to pursue a ban on gas stoves or not.

Esther Agbaje, Staff Attorney
July 6, 2023