By Fredrick Kunkle
The Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2022
Two lawmakers in Virginia have gone in the other direction as America’s kitchen culture war intensifies
The District would join other cities and states seeking to swap gas stoves and other fossil fuel-dependent devices for electric appliances, under a bill introduced Friday that is sure to add to a culture war already simmering in America’s kitchens.
The measure would incentivize the shift from natural gas to electric by using “hundreds of millions” of dollars in federal funds, including tax incentives, to encourage people to switch, said D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
The bill — originally submitted late last year — would target moderate- and low-income households, allowing those making less than $80,000 a year to replace their gas stoves and heating appliances without incurring any out-of-pocket costs, including installation. The measure also would add an additional permitting fee for people who install new fossil fuel-burning appliances in renovations.
“We think it’s a bold proposal,” Allen said in an interview.
Allen, who holds a master’s degree in public health, said his main interest in promoting the legislation is to improve the air quality in people’s homes, particularly for low-income residents and those in public housing. The bill sets a goal of retrofitting at least 30,000 low-income households by December 2040, with at least 5,000 conversions by December 2025.
Renewable energy advocates and environmentalists have argued that gas stoves pose a menace not only to indoor air quality, but also to the planet, by contributing to the greenhouse gases that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere. A recent study from Stanford University found that the appliances release far more methane than the Environmental Protection Agency estimates, and they emit significant amounts of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that can trigger asthma.
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