A recent rash of headlines are the latest in a litany of reporting that amplifies questionable science in support of the “electrify everything” agenda. This time around, the hook is a study linking natural gas stoves in California to benzene, a known carcinogen. Scary, right?

A full analysis of that study would not fit neatly into this commentary, just as it didn’t fit into most of the resulting news coverage. Suffice it to say, the link between natural gas stoves and dangerous levels of benzene in California homes was not conclusively established, by the study authors’ own admission. Further study is needed.

Curious, then, that one of the study authors would suggest policymakers should “ensure current and future policies are health-protective in light of this new research.” It’s safe to assume those policies include gas bans, a misguided yet increasingly prevalent refrain in some legislative circles.

Concern for indoor air quality is certainly a noble scientific motivator. Another study, recently published by GTI Energy, suggests that cooking on an electric range may have a greater adverse impact on indoor air quality than cooking on a gas one. Guess what? Further study is needed in this instance, too.

A 2020 study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) paints a clear picture of kitchen dangers: electric ranges cause household fires at a rate 2.6 time greater than gas ranges; civilian injuries at a rate 4.8 times higher; and civilian deaths at a rate 3.4 times higher.

Am I suggesting we ban electric stoves? Of course not. Many factors affect things like indoor air quality and fire safety, and policymakers must weigh all of them.

Gas bans are a heavy-handed solution to a nuanced set of issues. Not all gases are the same; for example, propane has not been shown to contain any significant amount of benzene. Propane, like natural gas, is a low-carbon fuel, as designated by the US Department of Energy and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Any policy affecting low-carbon fuels should leave all options on the table.

We certainly must work to eliminate the presence of harmful emissions in and near homes. Rather than gas bans, states should focus on natural gas supply chains and mitigate potential hazards like benzene. This, along with proper installation, ventilation, and yearly checkups by qualified technicians constitutes a common-sense approach to addressing health and safety concerns around gas appliances.

Also worth noting: many people prefer cooking with gas. It’s clean, it’s safe, and it delivers delicious food. It’s also better for the environment than electric cooking, considering that the average electricity from the US grid is responsible for more carbon emissions per kwH, by a significant margin, than low-carbon fuels like natural gas and propane.

We need to take a step back and examine the bigger picture. “Electrify everything” advocates are pushing us down a narrow and costly path. We need to embrace a wide path of solutions to our urgent energy and climate needs before it’s too late.

-Tucker Perkins, President & CEO, Propane Education and Research Council