US freedom at steak? Gas stove debate sets Republicans aflame

Talk of a possible ban on gas cooking in the United States due to health fears has become the latest rallying cry for US Republicans, joining other more established lines of attack such as gun rights.

The noisy debate was sparked by Richard Trumka Jr, a member of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), saying that a ban could not be ruled out due to the "hidden hazard" of gas stove emissions.

"Any option is on the table. Products that can't be made safe can be banned," he told Bloomberg News this week following new research showing an increased risk of asthma in homes using gas-burning stoves.

Republican elected officials quickly seized on the comments as evidence of Democrats' supposed wish to undermine American freedoms.

"Gas stoves are the next thing the Biden Administration is coming after in their latest power grab," wrote Jeff Duncan, a US Representative from South Carolina.

"Democrats are coming for your kitchen appliances," echoed Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. "Their desire to control every aspect of your life knows no bounds -- including how you make breakfast."

Some pointed to the supposed superiority of gas stoves -- "electric stoves are garbage," tweeted conservative commentator Matt Walsh -- while others pointed to the high cost of modern alternatives, such as induction burners.

Like many others, Republican firebrand Matt Gaetz shared a video of a gas stove burning.

The representative from Florida wrote: "You’ll have to pry it from my COLD DEAD HANDS!" -- echoing a famous remark shouted by late actor and gun lobby president Charlton Heston while raising a musket over his head.

About 35 percent of US homes have gas stoves.

- Potential 'health risks' -

To try and tamp down the rising temperature, the White House and CPSC spoke out against any possible ban.

"The president does not support banning gas stoves," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

"And the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is independent, is not banning gas stoves," she added.

The chair of the five-member CPSC, Alex Hoehn-Saric, a Biden appointee, took to Twitter to "set the record straight."

"To be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so," he wrote.

He did however add that the commission "is researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks," and would seek public input on "reducing any associated risks."

Recent peer-reviewed research -- which has received some pushback from academics -- says that 12 percent of childhood asthmas cases in the United States and Europe could be attributed to indoor gas stoves.

But Republicans say their position is not up for debate.

"God. Guns. Gas stoves." tweeted Ohio's Jim Jordan, who leads the Judiciary Committee in the newly-Republican-controlled US House of Representatives.

The debate "exemplifies the silliest tendencies of American politics," said the Atlantic Magazine. "A big nothing can morph into a huge controversy for no good reason at all."

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