To hear Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Tex.) tell it, the Biden administration’s latest decision is among its most insidious.
“I just think it’s pathetic that they’re doing this,” Jackson said in an interview on Newsmax Wednesday morning. “I mean, there’s so many other things they should be worried about right now. How about focusing on the crime in our cities or the fentanyl? Or, you know, our problems overseas with Russia and China and Iran and what’s going on over there or, you know, all the other issues that we have in this country with the economy?”
“This is a complete waste of time,” Jackson added, before assuring viewers they were not impotent in this critical fight.
“If you want to help me stop this,” he said, “go to SaveTheStove.com.”
For, you see, the issue about which Jackson was so agitated — so “fired up,” as the Newsmax host quipped — was the idea that the government would soon be banning gas stoves in private homes. Jackson had tweeted a rousing defense of the cooking mechanism on Tuesday …
I’ll NEVER give up my gas stove. If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands. COME AND TAKE IT!!
— Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) January 10, 2023
… and his Newsmax interview was simply a continuation of the theme.
“This is another example of government overreach from the Biden administration and another example of them using their agencies like this Consumer Product Protection Commission” — actually the Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] — “just like they use the EPA and the S.E.C. and the CDC,” Jackson insisted. “They always go back — and you can remember from covid and everything else — they’ll say there’s some kind of science behind it that justifies it. There’s no valid, legitimate science that proves that or that suggests that this type of cooking is any more hazardous than any other type of cooking.”
So that’s wrong. There actually was research published in December linking emissions from gas stoves to increased rates of childhood asthma. It noted that known mitigation strategies — like improved ventilation or converting to electric stoves — could measurably reduce asthma, particularly in states where gas stoves were more common.
It’s also wrong because the Biden administration wasn’t recommending anything related to gas stoves. In an interview with Bloomberg News, one member of the CPSC indicated that the commission would “take action” on gas stoves, adding that “products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” But this was one comment from one commissioner, not a statement that the CPSC was undertaking the procedural steps needed to effect such a ban, much less to impose one unilaterally.
On Wednesday morning, in fact, CPSC chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric released a statement formally denying that any such plans were under consideration.
“Research indicates that emissions from gas stoves can be hazardous, and the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards,” he wrote. “But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.”
In other words, not only was Biden not prioritizing gas stoves over Russia and China and Iran and what’s going on over there, the CPSC itself wasn’t obviously prioritizing it at all. It was not the case, as text at SaveTheStove claimed, that “Our Stoves Are At Risk!” or that “Biden and Democrats want to BAN gas stoves in EVERY home! INCLUDING YOURS!” While the website insisted that “[w]e can’t let the maniacs in the White House get away with this!” those White House maniacs weren’t trying to get away with anything of the sort. (Those who signed Jackson’s petition, of course, can expect imminent fundraising emails.)
Even if the CPSC had decided to ban gas stoves, it’s not as though there would be a need for Jackson to defend his all-American burner-top against jackbooted government thugs. The CPSC is not in the business of confiscation but of constriction. It has a lengthy page delineating products that are subject to regulation, standards and bans, but there is no process for even the banned products to be forcibly taken from homes. As The Washington Post’s Shannon Osaka noted, it’s not as though the CPSC’s ban on lawn darts in the late 1980s was followed by an armed sweep through the suburbs to ferret out illegal darts from white clapboard garages.
Consider asbestos. Asbestos is bad! It causes cancer. But it’s not banned in the United States; in fact, the United States regularly imports it. In jurisdictions looking to remove asbestos, it’s often taken out only when houses or buildings are refurbished, and then by people specially equipped for the removal.
In places that are looking to phase out natural gas, often for climate-change-related reasons, a similar standard is generally employed. When New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) this week proposed bringing New York City’s law to that effect statewide, the ban would apply to new construction, not existing buildings. In other words, the process for phasing out gas stoves would not be to march to Ronny Jackson’s door, truncheon at the ready, but instead to wait until he’s ready to move to a newly built place.
That Jackson decided to champion this cause isn’t really surprising. He represents the state of Texas, which in October was responsible for more than a quarter of all of the natural gas produced in the United States. His Texasness comes through in his call-to-stoves; the “come and take it” line is a callback to a line from the Texas Revolution.
Happily, the Great Battle for the Stoves has already been won. Mostly because the other side never showed up.