(NEXSTAR) – The fight to reduce emissions may be coming into your kitchen. Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and other progressive cities have already moved to ban most gas appliances in any new homes or apartments.
The logic behind the ban comes down to two main factors: the environment and health.
According to the Environmental Protection Administration, the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions in residential and commercial settings — about 79% — comes from natural gas use, like combustion in gas heaters and gas ranges. Switching to electric appliances, much like switching to electric cars, can put a significant dent in those emissions.
“Cooking over a natural gas flame is probably the most intimate connection with climate change that we never think about,” Drew Michanowicz, a visiting scientist at Harvard’s public health school, told The Hill in June.
But burning gas in the home doesn’t just pollute city skies, it also pollutes the air in your kitchen. NPR used an air monitor to measure the harmful gas nitrogen dioxide in a kitchen with a gas stove and oven on at the same time, as if they were cooking dinner. After 12 minutes, the journalist found the nitrogen dioxide levels were 60% higher than levels recommended by the World Health Organization.
Research has found the harmful particles emitted by gas stoves can cause asthma and other respiratory issues, especially in children.
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Gas companies and lobbyists are also responding with ad campaigns reminding people of their attachment to gas stoves — the gas appliance most often highlighted as desirable in real estate listings, too.
“I’d say the industry has put decades of effort and resources into fine tuning their messaging to the American public, and they do it well,” Mejia Cunningham, with the National Resources Defense Council, said in an interview with CNN.
While switching from gas appliances to electric is an effective way to curb emissions, some states are making bans like those in Los Angeles or New York City an impossibility.
Twenty state governments have passed “preemption laws” that prevent cities within the state from implementing natural gas bans, according to CNN. Basically every Southern state has such a law in place, as do places like Utah, Ohio and Iowa.
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Those states’ efforts to prevent gas appliance bans is at odds with the federal plan announced earlier this year to offer funding to states, tribes and territories that retrofit homes to be more energy efficient.