NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Lee has signed legislation that says local governments can’t ban gas stoves, even though no current city in Tennessee is currently pursuing such actions.
The legislation was introduced amid fears from earlier this year that the Biden administration was considering a nationwide ban on gas stoves due to growing health concerns over the appliances. While the White House has said President Joe Biden would not support a ban, a Consumer Product Safety Commission official sparked suspicion when he said “any option is on the table” when it came to regulating gas stoves.
Under the legislation Lee approved last week, local governments cannot regulate the “type of source of energy” delivered to customers for utility service connection or appliances. The legislation went into effect immediately after receiving strong support inside the GOP-dominated Tennessee Statehouse.
“There’s been some conversation at the federal level at looking at discontinuing appliances that run off natural gas,” Republican Sen. Page Walley said last month while explaining the need for his bill. “If we as citizens want to continue to have natural gas appliances then we can continue to do that no matter if a federal agency advises against that.”
There is good evidence that gas stoves emit harmful levels of oxides of nitrogen, which is known to cause asthma, Dr. Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The Associated Press in January.
Research has found that gas stoves in California are leaking cancer-causing benzene, while another study has determined that gas stoves in the U.S. are contributing to global warming by putting 2.6 million tons (2.4 million metric tons) of methane in the air every year even when turned off.
“It’s important for us that our state law is clear that we’re going to offer consumers choices,” Walley added.
Across the country, local governments — largely in Democratic-leaning states — have begun phasing out gas appliances to help cut climate pollution. Yet some Republican-controlled states are responding by prohibiting cities and counties from placing limits on energy options.