How defending gas stoves became a conservative culture war

No, the Biden administration is not coming for your gas stove. But that hasn't stopped the GOP from suggesting it is.

A photo illustration showing Rep. Jim Jordan and Gov. Ron DeSantis against a background image of a gas burner turned on.
Rep. Jim Jordan, left, and Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Photo illustration: Jack Forbes/Yahoo News; photos: Octavio Jones/Getty Images, Getty Images, Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

First there were vaccines and masks. Then school libraries and children’s books. And, of course, the “woke M&Ms,” whose diversity offended Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

Now gas stoves have emerged as the latest flash point in the culture wars.

This week, Republicans flooded the internet with messages and memes mocking a movement by some officials to halt the installation of new gas-burning appliances.

“I’ll NEVER give up my gas stove,” Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, tweeted. “If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands. COME AND TAKE IT!!”

“Don’t tread on Florida,” that state's Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “And don’t mess with gas stoves!”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, added them to the shortlist of things in the GOP’s freedom hierarchy.

“God. Guns. Gas stoves,” Jordan tweeted.

So how did we get here?

A stock image of a gas burner that is on.
Getty Images

In December, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency responsible for the safety of American consumer products, said it would weigh regulations on air pollution from new gas stoves. Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner with the CPSC, said at the time that an outright ban was “a real possibility.”

In January, a new study published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that gas stoves are responsible for 12.7% of U.S. childhood asthma cases, or roughly 650,000 asthmatic kids.

According to the study, that proportion is much higher in states such as Illinois (21.1%), California (20.1%) and New York (18.8%), where gas stoves are more prevalent.

Natural gas stoves, which are used in about 40% of U.S. homes, emit air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and other particulate matter at levels that the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization say are unsafe and can lead to respiratory illnesses.

The research prompted Trumka to tell Bloomberg News earlier this week that all options are on the table in the agency’s response to the research. Republicans in Congress seized on his comments, leading to the meme-fueled backlash echoed by conservative media outlets.

“Biden is coming for your gas stove,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board declared.

“My kitchen, my choice,” read an onscreen graphic on Fox News, which aired numerous segments decrying a possible ban.

The right’s outrage elicited a rare statement from the head of the agency clarifying its stance.

“I am not looking to ban gas stoves,” CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric said Wednesday. “And the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.”

The agency also pointed out that the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress includes an $840 subsidy for Americans who choose to switch from gas to electric.

“The president does not support banning gas stoves," the White House said Wednesday. "And the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is independent, is not banning gas stoves.”

But that didn't stop prominent Republicans from using gas stoves as the latest example of government overreach — and a source of income for themselves.

Kitchen aprons featuring an image of a gas stove and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Florida” went on sale this week in the DeSantis campaign’s online store. They quickly sold out.

In California, a prominent conservative activist is falsely claiming in fundraising emails that the state is going to force homeowners to “retrofit” their house with electric stoves. (The California Air Resources Board only plans to end the sale of new gas appliances by 2030, not to force anyone to replace existing ones.)

"First, the liberals came for our light bulbs. Then, they came for our cars. Now, they're coming for our stoves," former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted on Thursday, a day after Biden administration officials specified that they were not, in fact, coming for anyone's stove.

The controversy also didn’t stop at least one elected Democratic official from pushing ahead in the effort to curb indoor air pollutants emitted by appliances such as gas stoves.

In her State of the State address on Tuesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed banning fossil fuel infrastructure in new buildings, including lines that power gas stoves and furnaces, and the sales of new oil or gas equipment in existing residential buildings by 2030.

“We know that the key to long-term sustainability — for our wallets and our planet — is weaning ourselves from fossil fuels,” she said. “We are taking these actions because climate change remains the greatest threat to our planet, and to our children and grandchildren.”