The spark that ignited the gas stove debate

On January 1, 2023, probably most Americans woke up hungover.

On January 1, 2023, almost certainly no American woke up worrying that the gas stove in their kitchen was secretly killing them.

Within a week, the hangover was gone, but the nations were saying that the insidious danger lurking in their kitchens, basements, and grills had to be greatly feared, and that the deadly fossil fuel known as natural gas had to be banished from modern life.

What happened and why, like many issues that concern certain segments of the population, such as pronouns, justice and triggers, the topic of evil gas stoves is literally go from zero to 100 overnight?

It certainly appears that California and its Uber-nanny Air Resources Board (CARB) played a significant role in yet another case of the “yesterday it was unheard of, today it’s evil” swings that our society has become so vulnerable of late.

In September 2022, CARB banned the sale of gas water heaters and stoves in the state effective 2030. This got some attention, but because they scheduled a decision on stoves and other appliances before 2025, it didn’t spark a national debate and was mostly seen by those on the other side of the Sierras as stupid California doing stupid things, although he gave birth to this national history in Hill.

Shortly before the decision of the Sierra Club board, and a couple of climate and planning activist groups – SPUR – and RMI – (who themselves tried to launch an anti-gas balloon in 2020, but did not seem to have much success). at the time) – released a report on the horrors of all gas appliances, dedicated to California, as reported by the Globe in January.

This report claimed, among other things that failed the ludicrous test, that “(P) phase out of gas appliances in the Bay Area would result in a greater reduction in NOx pollution than phase out of all gasoline passenger cars in the region” and “(H) Houses and buildings are responsible for about 25% of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and burning fossil fuels in homes and buildings alone is responsible for about 10% of statewide emissions.”

The purported climate and health benefits were not the only ones touted in the report, which also stated that “(T) shifting away from fossil fuels in homes and buildings could serve as an important opportunity to advance housing and environmental justice…”

Central to the report is the idea that no home needs gas appliances at all and that every home should have an electric heat pump that will not only be cleaner, but will, in fact, keep air conditioners affordable.

The UK is trying to convince homeowners to replace gas systems with heat pumps, but is running into trouble. While the government claims that 90 percent of homes can be retrofitted – a figure that is a bit optimistic – and has banned new gas stoves (starting at two years old) and has a subsidy, the program has not yet been a wild success due to factors such as uncertainty and cost.

Finally, the report calls for CARB to implement the new rules quickly, arguing that not only does it have the legal and ethical right to do so, but it may in fact be compelled to do so by law:

“Actually, because NOX (certain nitrogen oxides can play a role in smog) and relatively recently and not entirely accurately came to be considered a “dangerous” greenhouse gas, hence the fertilizer disaster in Sri Lanka, and the recent decision of the Netherlands to destroy one-third of national farms) pollution is a precursor to ozone, and because many California air districts that do not meet federal ozone standards have a legal obligation under the federal Clean Air Act to achieve “as soon as possible”, there is a strong argument that air districts are required by law to comply with stricter standards for household appliances.“.

CARB, seemingly in opposition to its own claims, apparently still believes that the “harmful” effects of gas stoves can be reduced by installing a working range hood or simply opening a window, which would be easier and more expensive. more efficient and smarter than tearing out every gas stove in the state.

This simpler concept is becoming more apparent as research supporting health and climate risks may not be very reliable.

In October 2022, Richard Trumka Jr. — the son of former AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka and Biden’s nominee to the Consumer Product Safety Commission — attempted to convince the organization to consider “rule setting” for gas appliances. It didn’t go anywhere… at first.

However, two months after the CARB decision, the race to ban appliances has reached Europe, with numerous activists and pressure groups demanding that the European Union begin phasing out gas appliances.

(Note – one of the groups behind Europush is called CLASP, which also states on its website that “(D)Gendered energy service provision can reduce hard work, increase income and empower women” is a critical issue.)

Then, in January, Trumka gave an interview in which he said that the Commission had considered or should have (a bit vaguely) considered a ban on gas stoves. And – in contrast to the shrugging consequences Hill story – national debate exploded.

The Biden administration said it was not considering such a ban, photos of the first lady “Dr. Jill Biden cooking on a gas stove went around in circles and most of the legacy media immediately “fact-checked” the wildly unpopular idea to the core, basically – again – saying it won’t happen, and anyone who says it’s tin foil conspirators (New Republic even came into play by peremptorily stating the “gas-stove denial” common among the great unwashed in the overpass of the country).

But in February, Biden’s Department of Energy unveiled proposed rules for the production of new gas stoves (among many other things), the CPSC is actually looking into the matter now, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul put forward the 2025 idea. ban periods.

As “two weeks to stop the spread” turns into a multi-year disaster, and “parts per million” rules turn into “parts per billion”, government, political, regulatory bodies, activists and non-governmental organizations seem to be getting involved again. in cultural incrementalism, which imposed on the world “people with a uterus.”

So why gas stoves as the last target? Two reasons.

First, for some reason, the sustainable world has to run on electricity with nothing, no matter how clean (just a few years ago, natural gas was touted as the great green wave of the future, replacing nasty, smelly coal). no matter how efficient and effective it is should be considered. It comes from the earth and is therefore bad, (As stated in the previous story).

This essential invisibility of electricity is part of its environmental appeal. When other fuels are used, this is obvious to the user – he can see the gas burning in a blue flame on the stove, and every time he fills up the tank, he vaguely remembers from high school that the gas comes from the dinosaurs that were crushed. for a long time and now this is what your car eats.

In other words, there is some sensible physicality in fossil fuels, and electricity is simply turned on/off and the bill is paid once a month. It is the decoupling caused by this omnipresence that creates a psychological shield of mere constant presence around electricity, making it almost immune to upstream concerns and questions (pollution, etc.) about being able to use more—many, many. much more.

Secondly, not only the environment is environmentally friendly, but also money.

For example, RMI’s board of directors and donors include many people and organizations working in the field of “renewable” energy. Because natural gas is far more efficient, nearly as “clean” and much more reliable than wind and solar, it must be excluded from competition if solar and wind are to prevail (and make those same board members and donors even richer). into the process.)

Let’s say you have a new product that costs more and doesn’t perform as well as the product you hope it will replace. In the real world, you are the toast. But in a world of subsidies, guilt, bribes, and lobbying, you can hope that the government will at least carve out a niche for you by getting people to buy it at least occasionally (so that you are allowed to buy the nine good products you have to buy). one of the dirty ones, something like that.)

Now you have a solid base and you want to develop the product – how do you do it? Eliminating competition to make your product – no matter how terrible – the only available option.

Welcome to the heart of the matter.

With coal defeated, nuclear and hydropower demonized, and oil ruled out, what is the final hurdle to the practical monopoly that the renewable energy industry faces? Natural gas is why it needs to be attacked at every level and in every use, until it, too, is consigned to the dustbin of kilowatt and culinary history.

It also never hurts to have an ally on your side who – although he himself will not even think about becoming “green” – knows it will hurt its competition, hence China’s involvement in America’s environmental movement. RMI, for example, has one office outside the US, in Beijing.

Incidentally, RMI also has a for-profit green tech subsidiary, as do many of today’s clean tech non-profits.

So – in the end – California is regaining its status as a leader, a standardizer, a champion, an innovator, a model for the whole world, the future today.

Suffering loves company.

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