Associate Press copy is provided via The Canadian Press
By Matthew Daly in Washington
WASHINGTON (AP) — Venturing back into the nation’s culture wars, the Republican–controlled House has approved legislation that GOP lawmakers say would protect gas stoves from overzealous government regulators.
A bill passed Tuesday would prohibit use of federal money to regulate gas stoves as a hazardous product, while a separate measure endorsed on Wednesday would block an Energy Department rule setting stricter energy efficiency standards for stovetops and ovens.
The White House said the administration “has been clear that it does not support any attempt to ban the use of gas stoves,″ but GOP lawmakers say rules on gas stoves represent classic government overreach.
“It’s not a petty concern to the hard-working Americans who will be impacted,″ said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “The last thing they need is to have the Biden administration’s Green New Deal regulatory assault reach their kitchen appliances.”
Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey called the bills a political stunt. “House Republicans are once again putting polluters over people,” he said.
The bill targeting regulation of gas stoves as hazardous was approved, 248-180, while the measure blocking the Energy Department rule was approved 249-181. Twenty-nine Democrats joined Republicans in supporting both bills.
President Joe Biden opposes both GOP bills as blocking “common-sense efforts to help Americans cut their energy bills,” the White House said in a statement. Neither bill is expected to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The House bills were set for approval last week, but action was postponed after House conservatives staged a mini-revolt in retaliation for Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership on a measure to raise the debt ceiling. Led by outspoken members of the House Freedom Caucus, 11 Republicans broke with their party on an otherwise routine procedural vote that threw the House schedule into disarray for a full week.
McCarthy appeared to resolve the dispute late Monday after promising more meetings with GOP holdouts and seeking to reduce future federal spending.
Dozens of Democratic-controlled cities, including San Francisco and Berkeley, California, have moved to ban new buildings from using gas stoves as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve indoor air quality. New York state approved a law last month banning natural gas stoves and furnaces in most new buildings.
Fears of a national ban grew after a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in January that “any option is on the table” when it comes to regulating gas stoves, which have been linked to poor indoor air quality and health harms such as asthma. The remark prompted online images of the government dragging four-burner cooktops from homes, as social media users and GOP lawmakers pledged to defend the popular appliances.
Debate reignited after the Energy Department proposed a rule requiring both gas and electric stoves and cooktops to use more efficient designs and technologies.
That rule, which has not yet been finalized, could ban about half of gas stove models currently sold in the United States as of 2027, according to a department analysis. The rule would apply only to sale of new appliances and would not affect stoves already in homes or businesses.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called the department’s plan “just the latest in a long line of power grabs by the radical left and Biden administration.”
The rule 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,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Forcing people to switch to more expensive alternatives to natural gas will increase costs while disproportionately harming the poor and low-income families, she said.
Democrats called those concerns overheated.
“This is nothing more than a conspiracy theory cooked up to embroil Congress in culture wars that shed more heat than light on the issues facing our nation,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa.
“Contrary to the heated rhetoric from our colleagues across the aisle, the federal government has not proposed to remove appliances from Americans’ homes,” Scanlon said. She said the proposed rule would save consumers up to $1.7 billion and cut down on emission that are dangerous to children’s health.
The bill blocking regulation of unsafe gas stoves threatens the government’s ability to identify and regulate appliances with design defects that could cause injury or death, Scanlon said, noting that that the consumer safety panel recently recalled gas stove models that placed people at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A department spokeswoman said the proposed rule is “intended for nothing more than increasing energy efficiency and promoting innovation, without sacrificing the reliability and performance that Americans have come to expect.”
Eliminating the energy efficiency rule would “deny the American people the savings that come with having more efficient new appliances on the market when they choose to replace an existing appliance,” the White House said, while approval of the other bill “would undermine science-based Consumer Product Safety Commission decision-making.”
News from © The Canadian Press, 2023. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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