DEBATE: Should Canada Ban Natural Gas Stoves?

should canada ban natural gas stoves in households

Should we get rid of gas stoves in our homes? It's a question being asked by anti-Canadian oil and gas activists after a report released last week suggests that more than 12% of childhood asthma cases in the United States are the result of gas stove usage [1].

Surely enough, Canadian "environmentalists" jumped all over the report, citing it as direct evidence to start banning new natural gas stove sales across Canada. Despite the cited report’s bias coming into question, in reality these non-governmental organizations are pushing to ban just about anything that burns fossil fuels – with stoves seen as “low-hanging fruit” on the climate action front by anti-oil and gas activists.

The question remains: should we ban gas stoves, fireplaces, furnaces and other technologies in our homes that burn natural gas? Or, should we let families have the freedom to decide?

Mike Smyth, host of The Mike Smyth Show on 980 CKNW out of Vancouver, joins Cody Battershill, founder and chief spokesperson of Canada Action, to discuss why this movement is just another anti-gas, anti-fossil fuel movement that isn’t pragmatic.


Or, keep reading for everything said between Cody and Peter of the Wilderness Committee below. Also see:

Should We Ban Gas-Burning Stoves?

gas stove countertop

Mike: Here we go now with the great gas stove debate.

Now, critics say gas stoves are bad for your health, bad for the environment. Should they be banned?

This is a red hot issue right now, especially after a new report warning of the health risks from gas-burning stoves in your home.

We've got an awesome panel standing by on this. Both sides of it for you.

First, have listen to this report from NBC News.

NBC: A recent study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health finding 12.7% of current childhood asthma in the US may be linked to gas stove use. The safety of in home gas stoves is sparking a political battle in Washington.

White House: The President does not support banning gas stoves.

NBC: On Monday. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair, Richard Trumka Jr. saying to Bloomberg, quote, "products that can't be made safe can be banned."

When asked about gas stove safety, the statement sparked swift backlash from Republicans tweeting, get your hands off our gas stoves.

Democrats are coming for your kitchen appliances and calling the suggestion a weaponization of the federal bureaucracy.

The Commission, since clarifying tweeting CPSC isn't coming for anyone's gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products.

Mike: Okay, so this one burning hot and bright in the United States. There's a movement in Canada to ban gas stoves as well.

All right, let's discuss it now. Both sides of it for you.

Peter McCartney, climate campaigner at the Wilderness Committee, very pleased to welcome him back. Hey, Peter.

Peter: Hey, thanks for having me.

Mike: Thanks for coming on.

Cody Battershill is the founder of Canada Action. It's an oil and gas advocacy organization. Cody, thank you for coming on.

Cody: Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Peter.

Mike: Okay, gentlemen, thank you to both of you for being here.

Peter, let me go to you first. Gas stoves, should they be banned?

Peter: I definitely think we should stop putting gas stoves in new homes.

There's a wealth of evidence now that shows that they're linked to childhood asthma. As many as one in eight cases of childhood asthma is directly linked to gas stoves.

And when we find out that something is giving kids respiratory illnesses health, Canada should be taking action against this. And I don't think this needs to be the political football that Republicans in the United States are trying to make it.

This is a really common sense measure in the same way that, you know, we we ban all sorts of things that are unhealthy to have in the home.

And I think 30 years down the line, we'll probably look back at a bit like having heating oil in the home. Wow, we were burning fossil fuels in our kitchens.

I think that the time of the gas stove is on the way out, but nobody's coming to ban or rip the gas stove out of your kitchen. That's just not under consideration right now.

Mike: Okay, Cody Battershill, what do you think?

Cody: Well, I mean, I think we have to look at what does have an impact on our health and society. And when we look globally, there's still 2.4 billion people who are cooking with straw and dirt and animal dung and unsafe or unclean fuels.

And maybe we want to be thinking about helping them first and foremost get electricity or access to natural gas so that they can actually have healthier and longer lives. I think that's a key priority.

But the problem with being anti-natural gas, which a lot of Peter and a lot of these environmental groups are, is what's the alternative?

A lot of these environmental groups are against Site C. They're against nuclear power. They're against low-emission natural gas. They're against coal.

And yet all over North America, there's still a ton of opposition at a municipal level to new wind. And the sun doesn't always shine. The wind doesn't always blow.

So what's the bridge?

And if we're going to ban gas stoves in people's homes, are we going to tell people what to feed their children, how to cook? Are we going to ban cars that don't have seatbelts, that automatically connect? Are we going to ban cigarettes and alcohol? Are we going to ban people from doing extreme sports?

Where does it end?

So I think there's a balance. Plus this study, there's a clear organizational bias. The Rocky Mountain Institute has a stated purpose of transitioning our energy sources to a different model, and they have a right to the views, but the paper is clearly biased with the American Lung Association saying asthma can be caused by at least seven variables.

So more study is needed, but we have to let people have their choice in how they raise their families and feed their children and what people want to cook with.

Mike: Peter, what do you say to that?

Peter: Well, there was a lot there, so first, I guess the alternative is readily available. In British Columbia, at least where this is taking place, we have a very clean, renewable electricity. It's from dams that were built a generation and a half ago.

And you can have just as good of cooking experience on an induction stove. They use magnets to heat up your pots. And a lot of kitchens, like commercial kitchens, are actually switching over because they don't heat up the rest of your house. And they're actually far healthier for anybody who's living inside the house because the gas that we found is actually escaping of these stoves even when they're off.

And so they are polluting your home whether you're cooking on them actively or not.

Mike: Hey, Peter, let me just ask you real quick. You're a climate change campaigner there at the Wilderness Committee. Do gas stoves produce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change?

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. So the gas that is burning in your gas stove is methane gas, which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas that... 86 times more heat than carbon dioxide over its lifetime in the atmosphere.

And so this gas is seeping out of every gas stove in the country right now. And so, yeah, absolutely. This is low-hanging fruit to stop installing polluting projects in our homes so that we can prevent the health risks associated with climate change and we can prevent the health risks associated with burning fossil fuels in your kitchen.

Mike: Cody Battershill, what do you say to that?

Cody: I mean, the paper is also based on outdated data from the 80s and they avoided relevant and strong studies that disprove the author's thesis.

There was a study done in 100 countries with 2 million kids. It was one of the largest collaborative research projects ever, and it found no evidence of an association between childhood asthma or symptoms of diagnosis and cooking with gas.

So this, to me, seems like a part of the plot against fossil fuels, against natural gas.

And you'll notice that Peter did not talk about Site C, opposition by Greenpeace and all these green groups to nuclear power.

They just want to build wind and solar. And I'm pro-wind and solar when we have battery storage, when we can get through the land requirements, and when we can build enough of everything to meet growing demand.

But imagine if everyone had an electric vehicle right now, and if everyone had an electric stove. We're going to massively increase the demand on the grid.

We don't want blackouts. If we want affordable energy, we also need to think about some of these other consequences.

And again, two and a half billion people almost in the world don't even have electric, don't have electricity for cooking or gas. They're using other fuels.

How about a global campaign to help those people lift themselves out of poverty to enjoy our high quality of life? I think that's where these environmental groups should really start.

Peter: There are plenty of people who are working on bringing electricity and effective cooking to households all around the world.

Sorry, my phone cut out for a moment.

Can you still hear me, Mike?

Cody: Yeah.

Peter: So there are people working. Obviously, we need to be helping folks live healthier with what they're cooking all over the world, but we also need to do that in Canada. This is not an either-or thing.

And we have pretty clean, carbon free electricity here in British Columbia. And the intermittency issues with wind and solar don't come until you have over half of your grid actually on these.

So we're a long way of way from ever worrying about how much electricity we would need in British Columbia to power induction stoves.

Mike: All right, it's our gas stove debate. Cody Battershill, Canada Action. Peter McCartney from the Wilderness Committee.

Well, Peter, you covered a lot of ground there in our call, but let me focus on the strains on

the electrical grid once we start going to electric vehicles. If we get rid of gas-powered stoves, where's all this electricity going to come from?

Peter: There are upgrades we could make to the Revelstoke Dam in particular that would create lots of new electricity. There are wind and solar opportunities offshore.

Wind in British Columbia is a massive opportunity. Everyone knows the huge windstorms we get here, especially during the winter, and then for that baseload power that we're talking about, that sort of consistent power.

Geothermal. We are one of the only countries on the Pacific Rim that does not exploit our geothermal resources. The heat that is trapped under the Earth. We got 30,000 holes in the ground in the northeast of this province from all of the fracking for gas. We should start using those to produce clean electricity with the heat that is buried underground.

And so there are lots and lots of opportunities to produce the energy we need here in British Columbia that do not involve polluting our climate.

Mike: Cody, what about those alternatives? Your thoughts?

Cody: I mean, we're already advancing wind, solar, hydro. We're a leader in low-emission electricity in the world, and we're a leader in geothermal. But we need to plan for a massive increase in electricity demand, and it must come from reliable sources.

Previously, Peter said he wants us to go wind and solar, but said we don't have the technology available yet for storing it, and we don't need to worry about it until we're at least 50% wind and solar in the grid.

Well, the wind does not always blow, the sun does not always shine, and families cannot afford unreliable, unaffordable energy in the gap between those two technologies coming together in the meantime.

So we got to be pragmatic, balanced, and sensible about this. Let people choose the stove that's best for them. Just like we let people choose the food that's best for them, the sports that are best for them, the activities that are best for them in a given day within their homes and their families and be pragmatic.

This is just simply anti-natural gas, anti-fossil fuel rhetoric.

By the way, natural gas, fertilizers-based fertilizers are feeding billions of people. Are these groups, is Peter against natural gas-based fertilizer too?

Mike: Peter, do you want to answer that?

Peter: Fertilizers are a key part of our food system at the moment. They are also a huge contributor of greenhouse gases. So we should be doing whatever we can to grow in ways that minimize the use of fertilizer that obviously we need.

But in terms of letting people choose, we don't let people build unsafe homes. We have building codes. We have all sorts of regulations in this country that protect you and your family without you even knowing about them. So, no, we shouldn't let people continue to put polluting appliances in their home when we know that it gives children asthma.

Mike: Okay, let's go to Jackie on the line in Richmond. Hi, Jackie. Go ahead.

Jackie: Hi there.

Yeah, I don't agree with that either. I think that asthma the study is biased. I think that there have been other studies that probably would show that that actually is not related to asthma because I know a number of people that have asthma and they don't even have gas in their house.

And actually for the other side of it, what about gas fireplaces? Is that going to be banned as well as a heat source?

My father, during the 70s and 80s, switched all his vehicles over to propane because the government gave grants and said this is a safer way of driving. And that went out the window.

So, I mean, it's always just what is the new thing, right? But let's do some studies on it and actually get some facts before we go ahead and rule everything out just based on one study that I'm sure is really just not completely accurate in the fact that it's linked right to asthma.

I don't agree.

Mike: Thank you, Jackie, for the call. Well, Peter, what about natural gas-burning fireplaces or natural gas furnaces? Do you believe those should be phased out too?

Peter: Yeah, I mean, I don't think there is any reason for us to be building new homes with fossil fuels in them and burning fossil fuels in our home.

With regards to the study, this is not one one-off study. This is dozens of studies over decades that have shown that there are health risks. This is something that Health Canada acknowledges. It's something the United States federal government acknowledges. This is not... science here.

And once we understand that nitrogen dioxides and benzene and known carcinogen is seeping out of the appliances in your kitchen, we should stop putting those appliances in your kitchen. There are better ways to do this and no one's going to miss them.

Mike: Okay, Cody, you got 30 seconds here. You get the last word. Go ahead.

Cody: Peter is proposing that we essentially set ourselves back hundreds of years in life expectancy, convenience and personal choice and freedom by banning everything and anything made out of fossil fuels and their usage in our modern lives.

Literally, we will take every single thing out of... We won't have homes because they're made from fossil fuel, shingles, carpets, you name it.

And there's communities in Canada that do not have, that currently rely on diesel for their electricity. What are we going to do for those remote communities?

This is a biased talking point against clean Canadian oil and natural gas, and I don't think the science backs it up.

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