Are Gas Stoves Going to Be Banned? Here’s What You Need to Know
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Are Gas Stoves Going to Be Banned? Here’s What You Need to Know

Jun 05, 2023

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The government isn't coming for your stove, but the issue is more complex than you think.

For basically forever, gas stoves have been the preferred cooking appliance of professional chefs and at-home gourmets alike. They offer far greater temperature control compared to their electric counterparts, and there’s just something special about cooking over a live flame vs a glowing red coil. But lately, gas stoves have come under fire … uh, figuratively.

The hoopla began back in January when Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Commissioner Richard L. Trumka Jr. told Bloomberg that his agency was considering a ban on gas stoves in the US. The reason for a potential ban, Trumka cited, was related to health risks posed by natural gas stoves, as numerous studies have shown that the fumes they emit cause significant health risks. These risks potentially include cancer and respiratory illness, but the strongest evidence links their use to childhood asthma. (A recently-published study from the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that nearly 13% of childhood asthma in the US was caused by gas stoves.)

Trumka’s quote set off an absolute firestorm of panic about gas stoves. Much of that panic came from the right-wing media machine, which seemed more than happy to open up yet another battlefield in their ongoing culture wars as red meat to feed to their base (cooked on a gas stove, naturally). With deluded fears of federal agents breaking down their doors and dragging out their gas stoves, many people began to see the gas stove as a symbol of freedom against government overreach. But let’s take a deep breath (away from the gas stove, please) and look at what’s actually going on with your gas stove.

Even if gas stoves are banned in the US, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up the stove in your kitchen. “We are not looking to go into anyone’s homes and take away items already there. We don’t do that,” Trumka told CNN in an interview. Any potential ban would only apply to new products and not the 40% of US households that already have a gas stove, as the commissioner went on to explain. “If and when we get to regulation on the topic, it’s always forward-looking. You know, it applies to new products. Consumers always have the choice of what to keep in their homes, and we want to make sure they do that with full information.”

Even if you don’t own a gas stove currently but are hoping to buy one in the future, you shouldn’t anticipate any federal ban going into effect as long as President Biden is in office. The 46th US President is against banning gas stoves, according to White House spokesman Michael Kikukawa who was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The President does not support banning gas stoves. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is independent, is not banning gas stoves.”

For a while, even without federal intervention, it seemed as if gas stoves would be harder to come by in new buildings in the future, as a number of cities (and a few states) across the country in recent years have already enacted or are actively looking into bans that would prohibit natural gas lines from being built into new construction, effectively banning gas stoves along with gas furnaces and water heaters.

The first city to enact such a ban was Berkeley, California, back in 2019. But on April 17, 2023, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Berkeley's law against placing natural gas lines in new construction was pre-empted by federal law. The law in question is 1975's Energy Policy and Conservation Act, according to Grist's reporting, which was passed during the 1970s oil crisis as a way to boost domestic energy production.

The new ruling marks a victory for the California Restaurant Association, which had sued Berkeley in hopes of overturning the law, since most new restaurants would likely want to install gas stoves. The ruling also overturns a 2021 ruling from a lower court that upheld Berkeley's law. Berkeley's only move now would be to ask the US Supreme Court to review the ruling. But given the high court's current 6-3 conservative majority — and that majority's tradition of siding with Big Oil in most matters — an appeal seems doomed to fail, if the court even takes it up. With this new precedent now being set by the Ninth Circuit, other local bans on natural gas lines could soon meet a similar fate to Berkeley's.

Given the dangers associated with gas stoves, you may want to consider swapping yours out if you have one. While the government won’t be forcing you to do so, it will incentivize you to exchange your stove for an electric one. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by the Biden Administration last year, allows for rebates of up to $840 for the purchase of a new electric stove and up to an additional $500 for the cost of converting your setup from a gas one to an electric one.

If you do insist on cooking with gas, or if your situation doesn’t allow you to pursue other options, there are some safety measures you should consider. Proper ventilation can greatly reduce the risks associated with gas stoves, so always be sure to open the windows in your kitchen (or those closest to your kitchen) and turn on your range hood if you have one to mitigate the negative effects of gas cooking.

If you decided you've had enough of your gas stove but aren't a fan of traditional electric stoves, then you may want to consider induction. Induction cooktops use electricity instead of gas, but many prefer them over traditional electric stoves ... or even gas stoves. By creating an electromagnetic current that interacts with magnetic molecules in your pot or pan, induction cooktops conduct a microscopic dance that generates heat within the pan itself. "Think of how your hands become warm when you rub them against each other and how they become warmer as you rub your hands together faster and faster," says Dave Pietranczyk, the marketing manager at Breville Commercial. "Induction is much the same."

Because there is no gas involved, there are no fumes that can cause cancer, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. There is also no open flame and, in fact, the cooking surface of an induction cooktop always stays cool to the touch — all heat is generated inside the pan itself. Induction cooktops are also easier to clean thanks to their smooth glass tops, they’re more energy efficient and they heat up considerably faster than gas or electric coil stoves. Induction cooktops also offer more precise temperature control than any other cooking surface.

First, there’s no visual confirmation of the heat, like an open flame or red-hot coil. Also, you need to keep the pan flat on the cooking surface. What’s more, only pots and pans made from magnetic materials, such as cast iron and stainless steel, will react with the electromagnetic waves to produce heat. Other types of pans will only work if they have a magnetic bottom layer. Luckily, a kitchen magnet is all you need to check.

"If your kitchen is set up for gas cooking and you don’t have the correct connection for electric cooking, you’ll likely need an electrician to install a 240-volt outlet, proper electrical wiring and upgrade your electrical panel," says Jennifer Bradley, VP Product Management at Fisher & Paykel. Induction cooktops in general also cost a bit more than gas or electric coil cooktops, since their technology is more costly to manufacture. If you are looking to dip your toe into induction before making the leap fully, you can also purchase a standalone single-burner induction hob that plugs into an ordinary outlet.

If you're looking to dive head-first into the world of induction cooking, then Fisher & Paykel's offerings are a great choice. This 36-inch drop-in example boasts four burners, with the ability to link two at once to create a larger cooking zone, along with an integrated ventilation system.

For those looking to get the hang of induction cooking before investing in a full-on replacement for their gas stove, then it's hard to beat Breville's Control Freak. This standalone induction hob is all about control, offering precise temperature control of the burner from 77°F up to 482°F.