Expert testimony before a House committee outlined flaws in the Biden administration’s gas stove tests and the potential illegality of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) upcoming rules for the appliances.
The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability held a hearing to examine the administration’s “regulatory assault on Americans’ gas stoves.”
During the hearing, witnesses Matthew Agen, Chief Regulatory Counsel for Energy at the American Gas Association, and Kenny Stein, Vice President for Policy of the Institute for Energy Research, outlined problems with the way the Department of Energy was approaching their rulemaking process.
During his testimony (pdf) Agen argued that the DOE’s analysis projects minimal cost savings for consumers, amounting to a meager $1.51 per year for gas cooktops.
Agen also contends that the proposed rule violates the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) by potentially making gas cooktops unavailable in the market and argues the administration exhibited a predetermined bias against gas burners compared to electric ones.
According to Agen, the procedures used by testers were inherently biased, including the use of different water quantities, skewing the results against high-input rate burners commonly found in gas cooktops.
“DOE’s Proposed Cooking Products Rule is not its only effort to limit access to gas appliances,” Agen said. “DOE currently has rulemakings pending that would remove a large number of natural gas furnaces from the market and increase costs for customers, including seniors and low-income customers.”
The regulatory agency counsel said he “encourages DOE and stakeholders to develop a solutions-oriented approach to energy conservation.”
Stein made similar claims (pdf), saying that “The Department of Energy’s proposed rulemaking on conservation standards for gas stoves is not a sincere attempt to improve efficiency.”
According to the Institute for Energy Research vice president, the DOE’s rulemaking is “yet another piece of this administration’s whole of government approach to targeting energy sources that it disapproves of for ideological reasons.”
According to Stein, the DOE put together a test group of 21 gas cooktops with important features. The witness asserted that the agency has suggested standards so strict that only one out of 21 gas cooktops meets it. Stein also asserted that the DOE has not tried or told the public about any other gas cooktops that meet the proposed standard and have the necessary features.
‘An Obvious Violation’
“This is an obvious violation of the EPCA,” Stein said in support of his claim, saying that in order for the DOE to justify their standards, they have to achieve a “significant savings of energy,” which he asserts the proposed regulations do not accomplish.
According to Stein, the average annual consumer savings would be $1.08 over the average life of the cooktops under the DOE’s proposed regulations.
“This minuscule monetary savings is a direct result of minuscule energy savings and not a ‘significant savings of energy’ as required by EPCA,” Stein said.
The witness went on to explain that, in addition to insignificant savings, the DOE’s test data indicate only around four percent of gas cooking tops with important features valued by Americans meet the proposed standards, making cooking tops unavailable to many.
The committee also heard from Andrew deLaski, a Minority Witness and Executive Director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.
DeLaski contradicted Stein’s assertion that the changes would be insignificant, saying that due to the administration’s work toward energy standards, “We estimate that the typical household could save nearly $350 annually once upgraded standards are implemented and compliant products become the norm.
“Perhaps no home appliance is subject to more subtle variation in use than stoves. No two dishes call for exactly the same cooking techniques, and no two cooks pursue their task in exactly the same manner.”
Additionally, Agen testified that roughly 50 percent of standard gas cooktops won’t meet proposed regulation, and close to 96 percent of professional grade cooktops will be “wiped out.”
Acting Committee Chairman Pat Fallon (R-Mass.) noted, however, that celebrity chefs have sued to obtain a carve-out and avoid having their cooktops made part of potential regulation: “They get exceptions … It really is just outrageous logic. Why are celebrities getting favored treatment over everyday Americans?”
Agen responded that it was his belief they were given exceptions in some states that already have regulations to avoid possible economic impact on the area.
Fallon also pointed out that despite the committee’s invitation, the Department of Energy’s representatives refused to testify before the committee, claiming that the rulemaking process is still ongoing.
Ben Lieberman, a Senior Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, also testified before the committee, pointing to a plethora of concerns about the regulations put forward by the DOE, but closing his remarks with his belief that the hearing should focus on freedom for consumers.
“I’d like to emphasize that this hearing really isn’t about what kind of stove is better or which kind of energy source is better,” Lieberman said. “It’s about who gets to decide these things. And on this point, I think the decision should always rest with the homeowner and not the federal government.”
The DOE did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’s request for comment.