The next front in the culture wars: Gas stoves

There's a battle heating up over how we heat our food

A stove.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

Typically, the phrase "America's culture wars" calls to mind hot-button social issues like LGBTQ rights, immigration, or questions of gun control — the sorts of things that often fall along the country's broad partisan lines. What the phrase is less likely to invoke, however, is a question of what type of kitchen appliance a person has in their home. At least, that was largely the case until this week, when Consumer Product Safety Commission member Richard Trumka Jr. told Bloomberg that his panel was looking into new research that shows gas stoves are a significant source of childhood asthma, as well as assessing the various environmental dangers traced back to the common kitchen appliance. As to what the CPSC might actually do to mitigate those health risks, Trumka was circumspect, saying merely that "any option is on the table," adding that "products that can't be made safe can be banned."

A government agency tasked with protecting consumers announcing that it is exploring ways to protect consumers from a demonstrable health risk is usually not all that noteworthy. However, news of the potential for federal action against gas stoves — the sort found in an estimated 40 million homes, according to a group of lawmakers who last month urged the CSPC to look into the matter — was enough to propel the appliances to the culture war frontlines, with elected officials from both sides of the aisle falling back on conspicuously martial language in their efforts to defend Americans' freedom to pump their kitchens full of gas. Here's everything you need to know:

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.