Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has abruptly blocked one of President Joe Biden’s nominees from further consideration after the department he has been nominated to lead proposed new regulations on gas-powered stoves.
Biden had named Jeff Marootian as his choice to lead the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in July of last year but the Senate failed to finalize his nomination before the end of the last session of Congress, forcing Biden to renominate him in January. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was set to consider the nomination during a hearing on Wednesday, but Manchin—the committee chairman—canceled the vote on Wednesday morning.
In an emailed statement to NTD, Manchin said he initially supported Marootian’s nomination but “since then the office he’s been nominated to lead has proposed stove efficiency rules that I’ve raised concerns about.”
In February, the EERE proposed new regulations for gas stoves, setting a maximum annual energy consumption limit of 1,204 thousand British thermal units per year (kBtu/year) for new gas stoves.
“While I appreciate that these rules would only apply to new stoves, my view is that it’s part of a broader, Administration-wide effort to eliminate fossil fuels,” Manchin said. “For that reason, I’m not comfortable moving forward with Mr. Marootian at this time.”
NTD reached out to the White House for comment on this development but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Gas Stove Regulations
A debate has been simmering for months over whether gas stoves should be subject to new energy efficiency and emissions standards.
In December, a Colorado-based clean energy advocacy group called the Rocky Mountain Institute published a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that claimed: “12.7 percent of current childhood asthma in the U.S. is attributable to gas stove use.” In a January interview with Bloomberg, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) member Richard Trumka Jr. described gas stoves as a “hidden hazard” and raised the possibility of a ban.
“Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,” Trumka said.
Trumka’s comments caught widespread pushback, primarily from Republican lawmakers. Manchin also voiced his opposition to such proposals, calling a gas stove ban a “recipe for disaster” and saying “the federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
Following the critical response, White House and CPSC officials denied plans to ban gas stoves.
While not pursuing a total ban on gas stoves, the EERE did move forward with its proposed energy efficiency requirements. According to a DOE analysis, only about half of the gas stoves currently on the market would meet the 1,204 kBtu/year energy consumption limit.
Jill Notini, an industry spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), predicted “products right now in the market would need significant redesign” in order to meet the proposed energy efficiency requirements.
The Manchin-Biden Rift
Manchin has repeatedly split with Biden over energy and environmental policy issues.
Last year, Manchin demanded Biden apologize for “being cavalier about the loss of coal jobs” after Biden described coal-fired power plants shutting down in favor of wind and solar power generation.
In April, Manchin broke ranks with his fellow Democrats and voted with Senate Republicans to overturn a heavy-duty engine emissions rule Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had imposed. Manchin said those regulations would “burden the trucking industry with oppressive regulations that will increase prices by thousands of dollars and push truck drivers and small trucking companies out of business.”
Earlier this month, Manchin vowed to block Biden’s EPA nominees altogether, citing the agency’s efforts to impose more stringent emissions standards on fossil-fuel-fired power plants.