Monday February 27, 2023
CPSC Draft RFI on Gas Stoves Goes Before Commission
CPSC staff February 22 sent commissioners a draft request for information (RFI) about gas stoves' effects on indoor air. Ballots are due February 28. The comment period would be 60 days. The draft RFI (bit.ly/3Zhgwh5) covers three areas:
Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric February 22 told an ICPHSO audience in Orlando, Fla., that the request should be approached seriously and that gas stoves should not be a "punchline." He also quipped in the same speech to be "careful what you wish for," noting that he had wanted CPSC to become a "household name" but not in the way that occurred in January. He was referring to widespread negative reaction to a Bloomberg article that inaccurately suggested (PSL, 1/16/23) that the agency was moving towards a ban of gas stoves. In fact, this RFI – plans for which preceded the controversy (PSL, 10/31/22) – is in lieu of a desire by Commissioner Richard Trumka to direct staff to a consider ban, presumably because that was not something that could get a majority commission vote.
Despite the recent media focus on a ban, potential outcomes of the RFI also include the other end of the spectrum – doing nothing – as well as performance requirements or other steps like labeling and education. Moreover, should CPSC launch a rulemaking, it would be bound by steps that typically take a long time – sometimes many years – as well as its mandate to defer to voluntary standards if those are sufficient and followed. Even if CPSC were to demonstrate that a rule is both needed and allowed – and do so in a way that could withstand a court challenge – a recurring pattern with many products over the decades has been reinvigorated voluntary standards activities that necessitate CPSC putting its rulemakings on hold, often for even more years.
Meanwhile, there nonetheless is a U.S. trend towards gas stoves bans, but those often involve matters like climate worries that are outside of CPSC jurisdiction and typically are at the local-government level. Common are building code restrictions for new constructions.
On the federal level, concern about an effective if not actual ban currently is directed at potential efficiency rules under the Department of Energy.