Cruz, Comer Probe Whether Biden Admin Coordinated With Environmentalists on Gas Stove Ban Campaign

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
May 2, 2023Politics
Cruz, Comer Probe Whether Biden Admin Coordinated With Environmentalists on Gas Stove Ban Campaign
Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at a hearing with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 1, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) have accused a coalition of environmentalist groups of working with the Biden administration on a “hidden pressure campaign” to ban gas stoves.

A group of lawmakers, including Republicans and Democrats, have sought to block any potential bans on gas stoves after Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) member Richard Trumka Jr. raised the possibility of a ban during a December interview with the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). Two of the lawmakers—Cruz, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee—have gone further in investigating which groups may have coordinated with the Biden administration to promote a gas stove ban.

In March, Cruz sent letters to an environmental group called the Climate Imperative Foundation (CIF) and another environmental group called Rewiring America, requesting they describe what communications they may have had with the CPSC or the Biden White House regarding new gas stove regulations. Cruz also sent a similar set of questions to Consumer Reports, a product research and consumer advocacy organization that took a $375,000 payment from the CIF for the underlying research on an Oct. 4, 2022 article titled “Is Your Gas Range a Health Risk?”

In a set of April 26 letters, Cruz and Comer accused CIF, Rewiring America, and Consumer Reports of dodging Cruz’s questions about whether they coordinated with the Biden administration or the CPSC to promote gas stove bans.

“We look forward to your forthcoming prompt and complete response,” Comer and Cruz told the three institutions.

Comer’s inclusion in the latest round of letters could compel more forthcoming responses from the three organizations, because he has subpoena power as a House committee chairman.

Consumer Reports told NTD News that it had received Cruz and Comer’s latest communication.

“Consumer Reports is not advocating for a ban on gas stoves,” a spokeswoman for the organization wrote in an emailed statement. “Last year, CR tested gas stoves for emissions, and found high levels of nitrogen oxide in some scenarios. We advised people how to reduce the risks with ventilation, like opening a window or installing a range hood. We also offer the pros and cons of going electric. Our tests and results are always completely independent from any outside organization or influence.”

NTD News reached out to CIF, Rewiring America, the CPSC, and the White House for comment, but none of these bodies had responded by the time this article was published.

Cruz Identifies CIF As Financier

Cruz’s March letters appeared to identify CIF as a financial nexus for a number of groups that either researched health concerns related to gas stoves or platformed calls for banning or otherwise regulating such cooking appliances.

In his initial March letter to CIF, Cruz noted that the organization has opposed gas stoves for years. As one example, Cruz pointed out that CIF Executive Director Bruce Nilles co-authored a New York Times article in May of 2019 titled “Your Gas Stove Is Bad for You and the Planet: To help solve the climate crisis, we need to electrify everything.”

The Texas senator alleged that Rewiring America’s primary sponsor, The Windward Fund, received $400,000 from CIF in 2021. In a 2020 article announcing its launch, Rewiring America said it was established “to address climate change and jump-start the economy by electrifying everything”—presumably including kitchen stoves.

Cruz’s March letter to CIF also noted that the organization gave $300,000 to U.S. PIRG in 2021, before hosting Trumka on a webcast in which the CPSC commissioner said, “We need to be talking about regulating gas stoves, whether that is drastically improving emissions, or banning gas stoves entirely. And I think we ought to keep that possibility of a ban in mind as we follow along, because it’s a powerful tool in our toolbox. It’s a real possibility.”

Cruz said CIF gave $942,000 and $1,100,000 to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) in 2020 and 2021, respectively. RMI helped produce a research report last year that claimed 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases could be linked to gas stove use.

Cruz also said CIF gave $230,000 to the NYU School of Law in 2021 for a “U.S. buildings initiative.” The NYU law school’s Institute for Policy Integrity published a report in April of 2022, titled “The Emissions in the Kitchen,” which describes how the CPSC “can address the risks of indoor air pollution from gas stoves.”

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