Senators Ted Cruz and Joe Manchin introduced a bill on Thursday that would block a federal agency from banning the use of gas stoves even though there are no plans to outlaw them.
The move comes amid fierce public debate over the health and environmental impacts of the cooking appliances that burn fossil fuel and over the broader role of natural gas in fighting climate change.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, teamed up to float the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, a bill that would prevent the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves.
The agency has said it has no plans to ban the appliance but its top commissioner, Richard Trumka Jr., caused an uproar last month when he told Bloomberg News that natural gas stoves are “a hidden hazard” and suggested they should be banned.
He walked back those comments after conservatives and energy industry groups seized on them as a way to criticize the Biden administration for allegedly overreaching with its climate and environmental policy agenda.
“The federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner, which is why Senator Cruz and I introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure Americans decide how to cook in their own homes,” Manchin said in a statement.
Food and Water Watch, an environmental group, called the bill “absurd” and said it would “fuel the ridiculous rightwing panic over a non-existent war on gas stoves.”
Some research has indicated that gas stoves can be harmful to health. A recent U.S. study said 13% of all asthma cases in children can be linked to indoor air pollution caused by gas stoves.
Amid public health and climate concerns, dozens of cities around the United States have adopted or are considering policies that ban or discourage natural gas in new buildings. But they have been met with strong resistance from gas industry groups and restaurant and appliance lobby groups that argue that those studies are overblown.
The legislation would prevent the CPSC from using federal funds to ban gas stoves or impose rules “that would substantially increase the costs of gas stoves.” (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis)