Utilities Lobby to Protect Gas Stoves, But It’s Not About Appliances

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Steel yourselves for battle, culture warriors. Gas stove bans may be only the beginning and . household gas may be next — or at least, that’s what lobbyists fear.

The Financial Times reported Thursday that US utility lobbyists have been working hard behind the scenes to head off any bills that might curtail the use of gas stoves.

Per the FT, the lobbying is less about stoves and more about drawing a line in the sand for lawmakers thinking about limiting household gas more broadly.

Gas Giants

Concerns that the US government might ban gas stoves over health concerns started to swirl in January when Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka said: “Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” The following day the CPSC hastened to add it isn’t looking to ban gas stoves in the near future — but it had already become an intensely divisive issue. Republicans stood behind consumers’ right to choose their own, and in June the House of Representatives passed the “Save Our Gas Stoves Act.”

Per the FT, gas utilities lobbied that bill and others as a threat to their bottom lines. The thing is, gas stoves don’t actually make them that much money:

  • “The actual financial hit for a complete nationwide ban on natural gas stoves is very small, and not really a huge issue,” Ryan Kelley, portfolio manager of the Hennessy Gas Utility Fund, told the FT. “I think the bigger issue is that the trend will lead to outright banning of anything in the home that uses natural gas,” he added.
  • Residential gas usage accounted for around 15% of the US’ total natural gas consumption in 2022, according to the US Energy Information Commission, and 42% of the residential sector used gas for its energy needs. US natural gas consumption also hit a record high in 2022, but demand is forecast to fall next year, putting more time pressure on lobbyists to safeguard future revenue.

Gaseous States: While an overarching gas stove ban has yet to materialize, some states are taking a more piecemeal approach to making them less common. New York approved a ban on gas-powered appliances in May. Some cities and counties in California adopted similar rules on new construction a few years ago, but these were overturned by a federal appeals court. It’s all very on-again-off-again, kind of like an old gas stove.