Editorial: Gas, electric, light and heat: Making sense of proposed state and federal curbs on gas stoves

All things being equal, burning gas isn’t the best way to cook. Not only are newfangled electric induction burners faster, but research suggests a correlation between the old blue flames and higher rates of asthma. Then there’s the global emissions problem. All of which is to suggest that, if money and labor and energy were unlimited, New York would be wise to wave a wand and switch to electric ovens (and electric heat-pumps to warm buildings, while we’re at it, but that’s another editorial).

As this page often points out, all things aren’t equal. Money, labor and energy aren’t unlimited. It’s expensive for landlords and homeowners to buy new appliances, especially since that often necessitates electrical upgrades. Though federal incentives are in the pipeline, they’re not yet widely available. And dramatically upping electricity demand isn’t yet good for the planet given that New York City remains reliant on fossil fuels for power.

The United States should electrify more and more fossil-fuel burning appliances, just as it should trade fossil-fuel-powered vehicles for electric cars — on a reasonable timetable that doesn’t leave economic wreckage in its wake.

There’s nothing wrong with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission looking carefully at the indoor air quality hazards caused by gas stoves. Contrary to the freakout on the right, nobody from Washington is coming to rip out your range. The feds are simply researching risks and contemplating setting standards on toxic fumes.

New York City is indeed barring gas for heating and cooking — in new construction. The City Council’s effective ban begins next year in smaller buildings and in 2027 in larger ones. At the state level, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing on a different timetable to prohibit fossil fuel as a heating source, and eventually as a cooking fuel, in new residential construction statewide.

The timetables matter mightily. It’s already epically expensive to build and maintain housing here, thanks in part to huge mandates already piled on buildings. Transition away from gas, but don’t be stupidly rigid about how quickly that must happen.