The fight for natural gas is about more than stoves

This month, the Biden administration was forced to clarify its initial statements about the future of gas stoves after an outcry from consumers. The fact is there are 58 million Americans who depend on safe, reliable and affordable natural gas, and many of them can’t fathom losing their beloved gas stoves. The president has said a national ban is off the (kitchen) table for now, but the threat is still very, very real. And it demonstrates the importance of public participation in policymaking.

Dale Calhoun
Dale Calhoun

Across the nation, there are 99 cities that have passed policies, rules or ordinances making it very difficult for consumers to purchase and install a gas stove. The ban stretches from coast to coast as New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco are just a few of the cities where gas appliances are prohibited in new construction.

Thankfully, here in the Sunshine State, we have a champion in Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"You’re not taking our gas stoves away from us,” said Gov. DeSantis. “That is your choice, and I know many people who cook a lot do not want to part with their gas stoves, and so we’re gonna stand up for that."

What’s more, the Florida Legislature has already passed a preemption law in 2021 preventing local governments from banning natural gas. At that time, more than 20 cities in American had implemented bans. In the less than two years since, bans have multiplied five-fold. The threat is real.

It’s clear that Florida loves natural gas stoves. But these policies to protect our access to natural gas stoves benefit us in many ways that stretch beyond cooking dinner.

Protecting access to natural gas supports jobs, preserves reliability and fosters innovation.

Natural gas powers our economy. As fears of a global recession grow, we must place a high value on the economic contributions of natural gas to our state. Natural gas generates $3.5 billion in annual impact and supports 44,000 jobs for Florida families.

While prices of nearly every essential -- from food to rent to electronics -- have risen due to inflation, natural gas still remains affordable and can help Americans save on energy. Households that use natural gas for heating water, cooking and drying clothes save more than $1,000 per year compared to homes that use electricity.

Natural gas is extremely important to a state that is prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters. When the electricity goes out, natural gas is a reliable fuel source. Many homes and businesses depend on natural gas to power generators. From hospitals to nursing homes, our most vulnerable residents remain safe with the comfort provided by natural gas. And our emergency responders continue operations through and after a storm, many times powered by natural gas.

Floridians depend on clean natural gas to reduce their carbon footprint because it is clean and efficient. Residences using natural gas for space heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying are about 22 percent lower in carbon emissions than those attributable to an all-electric home. Through improvements to the distribution system, the industry has cut emissions by 69 percent.

Advancements in the production of renewable natural gas demonstrate just how exciting the future of natural gas can be. What’s now a clean and efficient source of energy has the potential to transform into a carbon negative industry that takes emissions out of the atmosphere and coverts it to energy, powering homes and businesses.

It’s clear that natural gas is worth fighting for. Should the federal government pursue a ban, there’s a lot at stake.

So thank you to all the Americans who stood up for gas stoves. In doing so, you’re fighting for access to clean, affordable and reliable energy. You’re fighting for an industry that provides jobs and powers our economy. You’re fighting for an industry that reduces our carbon footprint.

Dale Calhoun is the executive director of the Florida Natural Gas Association. Currently, more than 700,000 homes rely on natural gas and nearly 70,000 businesses are powered by natural gas.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: The fight for natural gas is about more than stoves