Blue flames rise from the burner of a natural gas stove in Orange, Calif., June 11, 2003. (David McNew/Getty Images)
New York state is reportedly close to enacting the nation’s first legislative ban on gas stoves for most new construction, including single-family homes and commercial buildings.
Amid a statewide uproar over the plan, the Democrat-led state legislature is set to advance the move as part of Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $227 billion budget blueprint, which heavily focuses on phasing out the use of fossil fuels with a commitment to creating a “cleaner, healthier environment for future generations.”
If passed as is, the measure would prohibit the installation of “fossil fuel equipment” and building systems in the construction of new one-family and smaller multi-family homes, beginning on Dec. 31, 2025. The same prohibition would apply to new larger multi-family homes and commercial buildings starting on Dec. 31, 2028.
This policy means that any new apartments or homes built after the effective dates wouldn’t be allowed to have many other common fossil fuel household items, including furnaces, water heaters, and clothes dryers. The term “fossil-fuel equipment” actually covers a wide range of oil- or gas-powered plumbing, heating, lighting, insulating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigerating equipment, as well as elevators and escalators that run on fossil fuel.
Exemptions for commercial kitchens, laboratories, laundromats, hospitals, crematoriums, and critical infrastructure projects would be likely, the governor’s office stated last month.
The state budget is due at midnight on April 1.
Supporters of the plan hope that New York state would take the policies of California and Washington to the next level, Politico reported. Both of the Pacific coast states have banned gas stoves in new properties, but they did so by changing building codes instead of passing laws.
“All eyes are on us, and a lot of other states are looking to what New York does,” Pat McClellan, policy director at the New York League of Conservation Voters, told Politico. “If we prove it can be done and we have the political will to do this, it’s going to open the floodgates for other states to take action.”
The plan has triggered outrage among New York Republicans. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-N.Y.), who chairs the New York State Republican Committee, called Hochul a hypocrite for not getting rid of gas stoves in her home in Buffalo and the governor’s mansion in Albany.
“Is it any surprise that Queen Kathy cooks on her gas stove when she flies around on private planes? New Yorkers are so sick of phony climate-warrior hypocrites and their ‘rules for thee but not for me,'” the congressman told the New York Post in January. “Our state is in a crime and economic free fall and she’s waging war on appliances.”
Lee Zeldin, a former Republican congressman from Long Island and a former candidate for governor, also took issue with the Hochul administration’s priorities.
“Other than the higher taxes, more crime, elimination of gas stoves, less freedom, lower test scores, and other doozies, life in Kathy Hochul’s New York is going just swell for her ‘apostles’ who haven’t left yet,” Zeldin wrote on Twitter on March 24.
Even some Democrats expressed skepticism, saying that forcing low-income families to go all-electric might make their lives harder.
“I would prefer that we incentivize electric buildings, either through tax credits or other proposals, rather than forcing it as an issue because there’s a lot of concern and angst in particular in western New York,” Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Democrat, told Politico. “We shouldn’t necessarily ban people from pursuing other options if that’s what they want.”
A recent study (pdf), backed by Colorado-based green energy advocacy group Rocky Mountain Institute, attributes nearly 13 percent of current childhood asthma nationwide to gas stove use. That’s similar to the percentage of American childhood asthma attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.
“Gas stove usage should be considered in multi-faceted asthma prevention approaches,” the researchers said. “Given that this exposure is preventable, our study demonstrates that known mitigation strategies will lessen childhood asthma burden from gas stoves.”
However, a comprehensive literature review (pdf) conducted by California consulting firm Catalyst Environmental Solutions found that cooking with gas is “not a significant determinant of residential indoor air quality,” concluding that many scientific studies on this topic have been used in California and other states to falsely claim that gas stoves harm respiratory health.
The researchers, whose research was paid for by the California Restaurant Association, said the asthma risk has more to do with the type of food cooked than the fuel used to cook it.
“Cooking typically relies on cleaner heat sources such as natural gas and electricity and occurs in settings in which care is taken to provide ventilation,” they wrote. “In these settings, the air emissions are due to the type of heat source (i.e., electricity and natural gas), the food being cooked, and the method of cooking.”
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