Energy & Environment — Gas stoves become culture war issue 

Strategists weigh in on the politics of the gas stove debate that recently raged in Washington. Meanwhile, agriculture groups sue over new water regulations.  

This is Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forward you this newsletter?

GOP frames gas stove debate as overreach 

A new culture war battle has broken out over gas stoves, with Republicans arguing that talk of a federal ban is an example of government overreach into the lives of Americans. 

  • “Don’t tread on Florida, and don’t mess with gas stoves!” tweeted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last week in response to comments from a member of the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that a ban might one day be possible given health concerns about the stoves. 
  • “God. Guns. Gas stoves,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) listed banning gas stoves as being among policies that he described as “Democrat authoritarian impulses.” 

An actual ban is unlikely. The head of the commission, which makes its decisions independent of the White House, said he was not looking to ban gas stoves. 

The White House has also come out against a ban.  

Supporters of either a ban or more regulations on new gas stoves point to concerns about both climate change and public health. Studies have found that these stoves can emit planet-warming and health-harming pollutants in homes and have linked them to asthma cases.  

Yet, Republican strategists say that the issue can be used effectively by the GOP to win attention and support from voters. 

  • “It’s your stove, it’s your lightbulb, and those are consumer issues and economic issues, they’re also culture war issues,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye, referring to another flashpoint in incandescent versus LED bulbs. 
      
  • “It’s part of how Republicans feel that Democrats are targeting parts of Americans’ everyday lives,” Heye added.  

This is not the first time that Republicans have sought to attack Democrats on policies related to household items. During his rallies, then-President Trump railed against showers and toilets that did not have enough water pressure, as well as against energy-efficient light bulbs.  

Asked about the rhetoric surrounding stoves and other appliances, Republican strategist Keith Naughton said it was smart to talk about the issues in terms that people can relate to.  

“You want to communicate to people about things that are relatable,” said Naughton, who is also an opinion contributor for The Hill.  

The other side: Christy Goldfuss, chief policy impact officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, told reporters this week that the rhetoric is “absolutely a distraction” from the benefits that can come from transitioning away from such items. 

Read more about the debate here.  

Business groups sue over WOTUS rule 

A coalition of agricultural and other business groups are suing the Biden administration over a new environmental rule that aims to protect temporary streams from pollution. 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) led the lawsuit, which also included groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council. 

The suit challenges the legality of the new rule, which determines which waters are subject to federal protections. 

The agency promulgated the new rule in December; at the time top EPA water official Radhika Fox described The Hill as a “balanced, middle-of-the-road rule.” 

However, agricultural groups have argued that some of the waters they are trying to protect  should not be subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. 

Read more here, from The Hill’s Saul Elbein.  

Watchdog: Bernhardt didn’t violate ethics rules 

Former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt did not violate departmental ethics and conflict of interest rules as secretary when dealing with a California agency for which he once lobbied, according to a report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). 

Bernhardt, who served as Interior secretary from 2019 to 2021, did both legal and lobbying work for the Westlands Water District (WWD) in central California before joining the Trump administration in 2017. 

The ethics pledge he signed upon taking office includes a vow not to participate in “particular matters” involving former employers or clients in the next two years.

However, the OIG report determined that because WWD is a state agency, it is excluded from the pledge’s definition of “former client.” The report further determined that Bernhardt’s work at Interior involving WWD were “broad matters” rather than “particular matters” as defined in the pledge. 

Although WWD secured a long-term federal water contract under Bernhardt’s tenure, the report found that this was not the result of undue influence by Bernhardt, and that other water contractors were treated no differently in the contracting process. A federal judge invalidated the WWD deal in 2021. 

Read more about the report here. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • ‘You’re hurting my country’: Manchin faces Europe’s wrath (Politico
  • “Solyndra” search impacts GOP districts (Axios
  • Despite Rain Storms, California Is Still in Drought (The New York Times
     
  • Mexico Bans Climate Startup’s Experiment to Cool the Earth (The Wall Street Journal
     
  • These farmers dominate the Colorado River. Cross them at your peril (The Los Angeles Times)

🐒 Lighter click: Burglary ring(tail)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

1 Comment

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