Plumbing

What occurred to fuel range bans?

FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2006, file photo, a gas-lit flame burns on a natural gas stove. A federal appeals court on Monday, April, 17, 2023, overturned Berkeley, California’s first-in-the-nation ban on natural gas in new construction, agreeing with restaurant owners who argued the city bypassed federal energy regulations when it approved the ordinance. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle, File)

(NEXSTAR) – Over the past couple years, a wave of progressive cities and states have moved toward banning gas stoves and other appliances in new buildings. San Francisco, Seattle, New York and others have changed the rules in the name of the environment and residents’ respiratory health.

But the wave has been met with substantial backlash, opposing federal legislation and lawsuits seeking to overturn the bans.

Research has shown burning gas in the home doesn’t just pollute city skies, it also pollutes the air in your kitchen. NPR used an air monitor to measure the harmful gas nitrogen dioxide in a kitchen with a gas stove and oven on at the same time, as if they were cooking dinner. After 12 minutes, the journalist found the nitrogen dioxide levels were 60% higher than levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

Studies have found the harmful particles emitted by gas stoves can cause asthma and other respiratory issues, especially in children.

Berkeley, California, was the first U.S. city to put in place a ban installing gas piping in new buildings, but the local law was met with a lawsuit by the California Restaurant Association, a trade group representing restaurants.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed an earlier decision by a district court that upheld the ban. The federal court ruled that existing federal law “expressly preempts State and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens.”

The judges wrote Berkeley tried to get around the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act by banning gas piping, not gas appliances. However, they rules the city couldn’t circumvent federal law by doing that.

But the federal court ruling was expected to be appealed, the Associated Press reported, meaning the legal battle could stretch on even longer.

Other cities and states have bans that are still on the books, or expected to go into place soon. New York, the first to pass a statewide ban, will phase in a law that requires all new buildings have electric cooking and heating appliances. The law will affect buildings under seven stories by 2026 and over seven stories by 2029, according to CNN.

All of the proposed or enacted bans focus on the appliances being installed in newly constructed buildings. No cities or states have suggested ripping out gas stoves in people’s already existing homes and apartments.

Meantime, federal legislators have moved to make sure a nationwide ban doesn’t happen.

In June, the House voted to keep the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating gas stoves as hazardous products, even though the head of the Commission said he’s not interested in pursuing a nationwide ban.

The legislation was unlikely to pass the Democratic-majority Senate, The Hill previously reported, and it has yet to see any action since passing the House.

However, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia did support adding language into an appropriations bill that would limit the CPSC from banning gas stoves.

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