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Natural gas production. (Photo: ucr.edu)

The Spark that Lit the Gas Stove Debate

Yet again, California appears to be at the front of the stupid line

By Thomas Buckley, March 17, 2023 3:40 pm

On January 1, 2023 it is likely most Americans woke up with a hangover.

On January 1, 2023, it is a almost a certainty that no American woke up worried that the gas stove in their kitchen was secretly killing them.

Within a week, the hangovers had gone away but the nation was being told to be very afraid of the insidious danger that lurked in their kitchens, basements, and grills and that the pernicious fossil fuel known as natural gas must be exiled from modern life.

What happened and why, like so many issues obsessing certain segments of the population such as pronouns and equity and triggers, did the topic of evil gas stoves literally, go from zero to 100 overnight?

It appears – of course – that California and its Uber-nanny Air Resources Board (CARB) had a significant role to play in yet another instance of the “yesterday it was unheard of, today it is evil” swings that our society has become so vulnerable to of late.

In September, 2022, CARB banned the sale of gas water heaters and furnaces in the state starting in 2030.  This drew some attention but as they scheduled a decision on stoves and other appliances until 2025 it did not spark a national debate and was seen for the most part by those on the other side of the Sierra Mountains as wacky California doing wacky stuff, though it did generate this national story in The Hill.

Shortly before the board’s decision, the Sierra Club and pair of climate and planning activist groups – SPUR – and RMI – (which, on its own, tried to get the anti-gas ball rolling in 2020 but didn’t make much headway it seemed at the time) – issued a California-centered report on the horrors of all gas appliances, as the Globe reported in January.  

This report claimed, among other things that fail the laugh test, that “(P)hasing out gas appliances in the Bay Area would deliver a more significant reduction in NOx pollution than eliminating all of the region’s gasoline passenger cars” and “(H)omes and buildings are responsible for roughly 25% of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions – and the burning of fossil fuels in homes and buildings alone is responsible for roughly 10% of state-wide emissions.”

The putative climate and health benefits were not the only plusses touted by the report, which also stated that “(T)he transition off of fossil fuels in homes and buildings can serve as an important opportunity to advance housing and environmental justice…”

Central to the report is the notion that no home needs gas appliances at all and that every home should have an electric heat pump that would not only be cleaner but also, essentially, create air conditioning availability equity.

Great Britain is in the middle of trying to get homeowners to swap out gas systems for heat pumps but is running into challenges.  While the government there claims 90 percent of homes could be retrofitted – a number that is a tad on the optimistic side, and has banned new gas furnaces (starting in two years) and has a subsidy in place, the program so far is not a roaring success due to factors such as uncertainty and cost. 

Finally, the report urged CARB to move quickly with the imposition of new regulations and claimed that not only that it had the legal and ethical right to do so but in fact may legally be forced to do so:

“In fact, because NOX (certain nitrogen oxides can play a role in smog and have relatively recently and not-exactly-accurately come to be considered a “dangerous” greenhouse gas, hence the Sri Lanka fertilizer disaster, and the recent Dutch decision to eradicate one-third of the nation’s farms)  pollution is a precursor to ozone, and because the many California air districts that are not in attainment with federal standards for ozone have a legal obligation under the federal Clean Air Act to come into attainment “as expeditiously as practicable,” there is a strong argument that air districts are actually legally obligated to pursue stronger standards for home appliances.”

CARB, in seeming opposition to its own pronouncements, does still appear to believe that the “harmful health” impacts of gas stoves can be ameliorated by having a working range hood or by simply opening the window, a measure that would be simpler and more cost effective and more rational than ripping out every gas stove in the state.

This simpler concept becomes more evident as the studies asserting the health and climate risks may not be terribly reliable.

In October, 2022, Richard Trumka, Jr. – son of former AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka and a Biden appointee to the Consumer Product Safety Commission– attempted to get the organization to consider potential “rulemaking” in regards to gas appliances.  It went nowhere…at first.

Nonetheless, two months after the CARB decision, the appliance ban bandwagon made its way to Europe with numerous activist and pressure groups demanding the European Union begin phasing out gas appliances.

(Note – one of the groups behind the Europush is called CLASP, which, on its website, also states that “(D)elivering energy services with a gendered lens can reduce drudgery, generate income and promote women’s empowerment” is a crucial issue.)

Then, in January, Trumka gave an interview in which he said the Commission was or should be (a bit blurry on that) considering a ban on gas stoves.  And – unlike the shruggy aftermath of The Hill story –  the national debate exploded.

The Biden administration said they were not considering such a ban, photos of First Lady “Dr.” Jill Biden cooking at a gas stove made the rounds, and much of the legacy media immediately “fact checked” the wildly unpopular idea into the ground, basically – again – saying it’s not going to happen and anyone who says it is are tin-foiled conspiracists (The New Republic even got into the game, making a peremptory claim of “gas stove denialism” occurring amongst the great unwashed in flyover country).

But in February, Biden’s Department of Energy did rollout proposed regulations on the manufacture of new gas stoves (among many many other things) the CPSC is in fact now looking at the issue, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has floated the idea of 2025 ban timeline.

As with “two weeks to stop the spread” turning into multi-year disaster and “parts per million” based regulations morphing into “parts per billion,” the governmental, political, regulatory, activist, and non-governmental organization blob seems – again – to be engaging in the kind of cultural incrementalism that has foisted “people with a uterus” upon the world.

So why gas stoves as the latest target?  Two reasons. 

First, for whatever reason, the sustainable world is meant to be run on electricity with nothing, no matter how clean it is (natural gas was touted just a few years ago as the great green wave of the future, replacing nasty smelly coal,) no matter how effective and efficient it is, to be considered. It comes from the earth and is therefore bad, (As noted in a previous story).

This essential invisibility of electricity is part of its green appeal.  When other fuels are used, it is readily apparent to the user – they can see the gas burning in the blue flame on the stove and every time they fill up the tank they vaguely remember from junior high that gas comes from dinosaurs that got smooshed a long time ago and now it’s what your car eats.

In other words, there is a certain noticeable physicality to fossil fuels, while electricity is simply on/off and pay the bill once a month.  It is the disconnection caused by this ubiquity that creates the psychological shield of simple ever-presence around electricity, making it nearly immune to “up-stream” (pollution, etc.) concerns and questions about being able to use more – a lot lot lot – more of it.

Second, it’s not only the environment that’s green – money is, too.

For example, RMI has on its board and amongst its donors multiple people and organizations that work in the “renewable” energy field. As natural gas is far more efficient, practically as “clean,” and infinitely more reliable than wind and solar power generation it must be removed as the competition if solar and wind are to prevail (and make those same board members and donors even richer in the process.)

Say you have a new product that costs more and doesn’t work as well as the product you hope it will replace.  In the real world, you’re toast. But in a world of subsidies and guilt and bribes and lobbying, you can hopefully get the government to at least carve you out a niche by forcing people to buy it at least occasionally (to be allowed to buy nine of the good products you must buy one of the cruddy ones, that sort of thing.)

Now you have your solid base and you want to grow the product – how do you do that?  By eliminating the competition to make your product – no matter how awful – the only option available.

Welcome to the heart of the matter.

With coal vanquished, nuclear and hydro demonized, and oil out of the question, what is the last obstacle to a practical monopoly that renewable energy industry faces? Natural gas – that’s why it must be attacked at every level and for every use until it, too, is relegated to the dustbin of kilowatt and cooking history.

It also never hurts to have on your side an ally that – while it will not even consider going “green” itself –  knows doing so will damage its competition, hence China’s involvement in America’s environmental movement.  RMI, for example, has one office outside of the United States – it’s in Beijing.

By the way, RMI also has a for-profit green tech spinoff company as well, like so many of the green/woke “impact” non-profits these days.

So – in the end –  California is taking back its mantle as the leader, the standard setter, the champion, the innovator, the exemplar to the world, the future today.

Misery loves company.

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11 thoughts on “The Spark that Lit the Gas Stove Debate

  1. Oh sacre bleu! French Laundry will be preparing dishes in an Air Fryer (how are they still preparing foie gras a savage inhumane treatment of ducks, yet pigs are a protected species in CA?) Ironic Newsom lives in Vern Jones’ Estate built by oil and gas exploration and pipelines.-LOL They’re all striving to be good little UN/WEF elves for
    recognition, $$$, power and control. Not how God intended this world, they will fail and no amount of Chyna funding will save them. Keep the Faith!

  2. So much for charging an EV at home. You need to add at least 40 amps for an electric range, and 50 amps for electric heat. Most newer homes have 200 amp service, older homes, less. By the time you add it up, you will need an expensive power upgrade. Even if California had the infrastructure to supply it.
    Or in typical “less is equitable” California, you will park in a charging park and Uber to and from the charging park.

  3. You know if it was not all those regulations that created air sealed houses (to “save energy”) over the last 5 decades even if there was a NO2 / asthma link (which there is not) it would not matter.

    Whats really interesting is that when I did a deep dive in the published research literature there has been basically zero research on any possible links between the huge increase in home / building insulation and low air circulation indoor spaces since the 1970’s. Even though there is a lot of strong secondary evidence that there is causal link. In fact there seems to be no meaningful research on long term heath effects of living in low air circulation spaces with passive exposure to insulating materials. No research grants in that area it seems.

    Maybe because that might undermine the Green Religion. Remember all increases in energy prices since the 1970’s have been due to political and regulatory manipulation. There was never a supply problem. To pick just one example. Not only does California have more probably oil reserves than Iraq onshore but all offshore oil exploration was shut down in the late 1960’s but the geology is such that possible reserves are at least in the Gulf of Mexico league. And that Santa Barbara oil spill “ecological disaster” in 1969 that was used to shutdown all offshore exportation. Less oil that the annual natural seepage into the Channel.

    Just looked at the CalISO numbers. Around 90% of the electricity beingused to change those EV’s is coming from non “renewable” sources. So pretty typical. Although it can get as low as 80% for a few hours in the afternoon. With the true cost of the “renewable” kWh’ers being about 6x of natural gas.

    So no change from the 1960’s. Green / eco supporters = very low information stupid affluent people.

  4. There is no debate. This is simply the lefts next front in their war on humanity and their quest to collapse the grid. It is also a distraction from the far worse things they are doing.

  5. LOL. I could not help but notice on the RMI website a picture of Silicon Valley Bank and the following statement:
    “REALITY CHECK: Silicon Valley Bank placed some risky bets, but climate tech wasn’t one of them.” They sound just a tad defensive, no? After all, they were bailed out as was their China affiliate.

  6. Let’s look at the big picture: post-fossil-fuel is the same as post-petrodollar. Back in the 70’s, when the US Dollar debt became commodity-backed, the Fed knew the party couldn’t last forever. When the inevitable collapse comes, the Imperialists want to make sure we don’t have a petro-ruble or a petro-yuan – so they started a 50-year plan to coerce the development and uptake of “alternative” energy so as to make rock oil and gas as obsolete as whale oil, steam power, and candles. If it was really about energy efficiency, we would ban home water heaters and create centralized hot water plants distributing hot water like a utility.

  7. The ban on gas furnaces and heaters is created by absolute stupid people. Why would you take out a 95% thermally efficient water heater, and use gas to generate and distribute electricity at 54% thermal efficiency? This makes no scientific sense.

    Get ready for your utility bills to triple, too. Gas is relatively inexpensive. Electricity is expensive. Get ready for your electricity bills to go to $600 or $700 a month. That’s what a friend pays who has no gas hookup.

  8. Mr. Buckley is correct as to motive, but greed isn’t the only, or even the primary, motive for some of those involved. Newsom and many of his collaborators are graduates of the WEF’s Young Global Leaders programs. They’re members of the cult in good standing. Most energy carriers, wood, charcoal, methane, alcohol, even bricks made of waste paper, can be produced at home, as well as (to a degree) the means to use them, such as rocket stoves or other contrivances. This gives the average person some ability to say “no.” If, however, everyone has been forced onto electricity, and regulations put in place criminalizing the use of anything else (and new construction indeed makes it difficult to use any other energy sources), it then makes it much easier to impose energy rationing. A grid based on so called renewables, which cannot reliably provide anywhere near the amounts of energy our society requires, will of necessity include rationing, as both a means to keep it functioning and as a way to enforce compliance with other policies. Gavin and company aren’t concerned about freezing a few million “useless eaters” to death; you’re in the way of their great Trans-humanist dream, after all.

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