After Department of Energy leaders proposed strict new limits on gas stoves, the agency announced new rules that will largely allow gas stoves to remain on the market.
The new rules are part of a broader set of new energy standards for appliances intended to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Energy said the new standards will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 4 million metric tons cumulatively over 30 years.
According to the department, 97% of gas stoves currently on the market will meet its new standards, which are set to go into place in 2028.
The new rules come after lawmakers and the appliance industry applied pressure on the Biden administration not to enact strict rules on gas stoves. In February of last year, the Department of Energy released new rules that industry leaders and many lawmakers said went too far.
The previous proposal would have capped the maximum annual energy usage of gas cooktops to 1,204 kBtu per year. The new rules are much more lenient, allowing cooktops to use up to 1,770 kBtu annually.
The Republican-led House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the proposal last June. Witnesses invited by Republican members of the committee blasted the proposal, citing estimates that the rule would take over half of all gas stoves for sale off the market.
"Eliminating, at minimum, half of the gas stoves available to consumers prevents customers who want a gas stove from obtaining one," said Matthew Agen, chief regulatory counsel at the American Gas Association. "Not only is the proposed rule ill-conceived, analytically unsupportable, and anti-consumer, the proposed rule suffers from a series of procedural and legal errors that render it unlawful."
The committee later forwarded a bill to the full House that would prevent the government from using federal funds to regulate gas stoves and enforce a product safety standard that prohibits the use or sale of these stoves. H.R. 1615 passed by a 248-180 margin, with 29 Democrats joining 219 Republicans to support the bill.
The bill has yet to be considered by the Senate.
The new rules have the backing of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
"This standard is a win for consumers and energy savings," said Kelly Mariotti, AHAM president and CEO. "Manufacturers will have the flexibility they need to continue offering the features and performance that consumers value in gas and electric cooking products.
"AHAM, along with consumer and environmental advocates, worked diligently over several months to negotiate the standard for cooking appliances and other products that would result in gains in energy efficiency while allowing manufacturers the lead time to innovate and get the best products to market."
While this week's announcement of new rules comes as a victory for the appliance industry, many health and environmentalists have called on stricter standards for gas stoves. One major concern is growing research that indicates household gas cookouts can cause negative health outcomes.
Last year, Stanford University researchers published their findings in Environmental Science & Technology that said a single gas burner on high, or an oven set to 350 degrees, raised benzene concentrations above the upper range of indoor benzene concentrations attributable to secondhand tobacco smoke.
The American Cancer Society says that high doses of benzene "can affect the nervous system, which can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion, and/or unconsciousness." It says that cigarette smoking is a major source of benzene.
The study follows previous Stanford research highlighting how methane can be emitted from gas appliances. The research indicated that gas stoves are attributable to 12.7% of all childhood asthma cases.
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