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Claim about Energy Department, gas stoves, China is exaggerated
If Your Time is short
• Granholm did meet with the CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental group, in 2021, but the department says that gas stoves were not discussed.
• The institute has raised concerns about the health effects of using gas stoves, but has discussed a ban only as one of several options for limiting health impacts and did not explicitly advocate for a ban.
• Various Biden administration officials have said that they have no future plans to ban gas stoves, and it’s doubtful that the government could legally force existing gas stoves to be replaced.
• The institute is working with the Chinese government to reduce carbon emissions, but experts say that characterizing this as "ties" to the Communist Party lacks important context.
In a recent tweet, Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., hit upon three hot-button issues in today’s politics: climate change, China and gas stoves.
"Outrageous!" Langworthy said in his Feb. 10 tweet. "A government watchdog group has uncovered Biden's Energy Secretary's meeting with the radical green energy group behind the gas stove ban. This dark-money group has ties to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). Hands off our stoves, stop treating China like our friend."
The tweet linked to a Fox News article about a right-of-center group, Americans for Public Trust, which had reported that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s schedule included a meeting with a representative from the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental group. The group said a calendar entry showed Granholm meeting with Jules Kortenhorst, the institute’s then-CEO, in June 2021.
We wondered whether the tweet accurately characterized Granholm’s meeting by saying the institute is behind a ban on gas stoves and that it has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
When we inquired, Langworthy's office sent us the Americans for Public Trust statement and news coverage of its release. But we found that Langworthy’s description is exaggerated.
The Rocky Mountain Institute is an environmental organization that focuses on the production and use of energy. It participates in programs worldwide to work with governments to curb climate change, including China.
According to Americans for Public Trust, Kortenhorst met with Granholm for an hour over Zoom. The calendar didn’t disclose what they discussed, but Americans for Public Trust took aim at the group’s background. In its statement, the organization said the institute "made recent headlines after it was exposed for funding a study that highlighted public health dangers posed by gas stove usage."
The Rocky Mountain Institute’s report found that "burning gas in buildings is not only a threat to climate action but also to human health, as these appliances are sources of indoor air pollution. … What’s more, a robust body of scientific research shows the pollutants released by gas stoves can have negative health effects, often exacerbating respiratory conditions like asthma."
The report urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission to "set science-based indoor air quality guidelines" for nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, and to require manufacturers and installers to "certify that any new gas stove installed will not expose residents to harmful levels" of those chemicals. The group suggested that this could include automatic exhaust venting.
For existing users of gas stoves, the group suggested that solutions could include mandating carbon monoxide detectors and warnings "all the way to requiring replacements."
So it’s accurate to say that the group is concerned about policy over gas stoves, and the group floated the possibility of "requiring replacements" for existing users. But it offered a range of possible solutions and stopped short of advocating for a "gas stove ban."
Even if someone perceives the institute’s floating of requiring replacements as advocacy for a ban, the Biden administration has made clear that the idea isn’t going anywhere.
The issue emerged publicly when Consumer Product Safety Commission member Rich Trumka Jr. was quoted in a Jan. 9 Bloomberg News article discussing gas stoves’ health risks and how the commission might address them. "Any option is on the table," said Trumka, a Biden appointee. "Products that can’t be made safe can be banned."
But in an October meeting detailing the agency’s plans for 2023, Trumka introduced an amendment for a proposed rule to tighten gas stove safety. No other commissioners supported the amendment.
And the commission’s chair, Alexander Hoehn-Saric, a Biden appointee, said in a statement that neither he nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking to ban gas kitchen appliances.
The White House echoed this position. "The president does not support banning gas stoves," a White House spokesperson told PolitiFact.
The commission did unanimously approve a second amendment Trumka offered to seek public comment on risks associated with gas stoves and possible solutions to address them. But that’s well short of a ban.
Even if the commission’s position changes, its hands would be tied if it sought to remove existing gas stoves. The commission has the authority to implement forward-looking bans if there is no other reasonable way to protect people from the danger an item poses. However, the commission lacks the power to remove products that are already in consumers’ homes. Bans and regulations apply to manufacturers and sellers.
Trumka made this point in a Jan. 9 tweet. "To be clear, CPSC isn't coming for anyone's gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products."
The Energy Department told PolitiFact New York that the meeting with Granholm was not about gas stoves, and that the department isn’t considering a ban, either.
"Claims that the government is banning gas stoves are absurd," the department said in a statement. "The Department of Energy is proposing efficiency standards for gas and electric cooking appliances. They are not proposing bans on either."
The Rocky Mountain Institute is working with China to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. When we inquired about the nature of this collaboration, the institute did not respond. However, the group said it has worked with the Chinese government to pass and propose legislation to meet this goal.
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online publication, reported in January that in 2013, the institute "joined forces with China's National Development and Reform Commission — the government agency tasked with planning the communist nation's economy — to produce a report that advised China to replace existing appliances and generators with ‘clean energy technologies.’ The commission went on to set climate goals that included energy reduction targets."
In China, the Communist Party controls the government, and the government has vast control over public life. So any effort to change China’s environmental behavior requires working with the Chinese government, which in turn requires working with Communist Party officials.
But Daniel Markey, a China expert at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, told PolitiFact that characterizing these as "ties" to the Communist Party lacks important context.
China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon, producing nearly 10 billion tons annually, or more than a quarter of global emissions. So attacking climate change globally isn’t feasible unless China reduces its emissions.
And that would be possible without some cooperation with the government. Working with China on this goal does not signal approval of China’s communist government, Markey said.
The group is working side by side with the Chinese government "to achieve their environmental aims," he said.
Langworthy said Granholm met "with the radical green energy group behind the gas stove ban," which "has ties to the" Chinese Communist Party.
Granholm did meet with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s CEO in 2021, but the department says that gas stoves weren’t discussed. The institute has raised concerns about the health impacts of using gas stoves, but has discussed a ban only as one of several options for limiting health impacts and did not explicitly advocate for a ban.
Biden administration officials have said that they have no plans to ban gas stoves going forward, and it’s doubtful that the government could legally force existing gas stoves to be replaced even if it wanted.
The institute is working with the Chinese government to reduce carbon emissions, but experts say that characterizing this as "ties" to the Communist Party lacks important context.
We rate the statement Mostly False.
Nick Langworthy, tweet, Feb. 10, 2023
Rocky Mountain Institute, et al., "Health Effects from Gas Stove Pollution," accessed March 7, 2023
RMI China Program webpage
Americans for Public Trust, "REVEALED: Biden’s Energy Secretary Privately Met with China-Connected Activist Group Pushing Ban on Gas Stoves", Feb. 10, 2023
Fox News, "Biden's energy secretary met with China-connected group fueling gas stove bans in US" , Feb. 10, 2023
Our World in Data, "CO2 emissions," accessed March 7, 2023
Washington Free Beacon, "Meet the Green Energy Group Behind the Study That's Driving Calls To Ban Gas Stoves," Jan. 16, 2023
PolitiFact, "The White House is not banning gas stoves and ovens," Jan. 12, 2023
Statement to PolitiFact from the Energy Department, March 6, 2023
Email interview with Dr. Daniel Markey, senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Mar. 6, 2023
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