The House Wednesday passed legislation to block a proposed Department of Energy rule that may effectively ban many models of gas stove, a move strongly opposed by public gas utilities.
The Save Our Gas Stoves Act passed the House with bipartisan support. The legislation is the second of two pieces designed to slow the roll of regulations that are pushing appliances powered by fossil fuels to the sidelines. The natural gas industry employs munis for long term capital improvements and prepaid natural gas bonds.
Prepays are usually issued as tax-exempt instruments that allow utilities to lock in long-term, discounted prices on fuel purchased from the commodity trading arms of banks. According to Bloomberg, sales of prepays hit a low of $1.5 billion in 2020 but rebounded to over $10 billion last year with 2023 promising another strong performance.
The public gas utilities have been battling gas appliance bans and supports both pieces of legislation. The first was passed on Tuesday with bipartisan support but the industry is not hopeful about the future.
“It is unlikely that either will get the sixty votes needed for passage in the U.S. Senate,” said Dave Schryver, president, CEO American Public Gas Association. “If they do, the President will likely not sign the bills. This means the Department of Energy can still force fuel switching through their setting of appliance efficiency standards.”
A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Joe Manchin D- W.Va. on Wednesday. “As I’ve said before, the federal government has no business telling Americans how to cook their dinner,” he said via a statement.
Save Our Stoves was introduced in the House in March by Rep. Debbie Lesko R-Ariz. Its stated purpose is “to prohibit unreasonable energy standards for cooking products and block the U.S. Department of Energy from implementing its burdensome proposed efficiency standard for gas cooking products.”
The Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Armstrong R-N.D. It passed on Tuesday, also with bipartisan support and would bar the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves.
The legislation was temporarily stalled last week as members of the House Freedom Caucus staged a work stoppage to protest Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s support of the debt ceiling legislation.
The issue started to heat up in January when the chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the agency was “researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks.” Despite the agency insisting that it was not aiming to ban gas stoves, the concept became a rallying cry for government overreach.
The roots of the issue stretch back to a 2019 ordinance in Berkeley, California that prohibits the installation of natural gas infrastructure in new construction, low-rise residential buildings. Since then, over a hundred municipalities including New York City, San Francisco and New York State have enacted similar legislation. Some data indicates stoves can leak benzene and methane even when they are turned off.
Natural gas accounts for about 50% of the country’s residential heat and 40% of the cooking fuel in U.S. homes. The Inflation Reduction Act includes incentives for homeowners to change out natural gas fired furnaces for electric heat pumps in a move toward decarbonization.
In addition to the gas stove legislation the APGA continues to support key issues affecting the muni market including direct pay municipal bonds, restoring advance refunding, and adjusting the cap on bank qualified bonds. They are also focused on trying to stay in the country’s kitchens.
“By limiting consumer choice through policy, APGA’s members cannot achieve their critical mission to deliver affordable, efficient, and reliable energy,” said Schryver. ”APGA member assets, both the pipes and the people, can play a role in our country’s goal to decrease emissions, and should be looked to as an ally in this effort versus being banned.”