Written by Natalia Toliver
Go green they say, well how much further can we go before businesses can no longer cope?
The city of San Francisco is ready to place a ban on natural gas stoves. This ban, which would also affect other gas appliances, is part of a statewide campaign to slow climate change by reducing carbon emissions and other health hazards from indoor gas exposures. Officials say that gas stoves emit dangerous levels of toxic gas, such as nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde. These gases can apparently cause heart and lung problems as well as aggravate asthma. This despite the fact that gas stoves have been used for over a century.
Much of the opposition to this ban comes from restaurants. With the already overwhelming Covid-19 restrictions put in place by Gov. Newsom, this ban would make it even harder for restaurants to function and grow. Restaurant owners say it is completely outrageous, unnecessary, and only “puts salt in the wounds of businesses agonizing over covid restrictions.”
Matthew Dolan, executive chef and partner of 25 Lusk, said, “If you get rid of the gas element, I don’t think restaurants can do it unless you’re like a coffee shop with a panini press. Whoever cooked up this idea should be reprimanded.”
Restaurants in California are required to have state-of-the-art ventilation systems that remove the byproducts of burning natural gas and circulate fresh air; so why would properly vented stoves pose any health problems?
In 2019 the California Restaurant Association sued Berkeley over this ban, arguing that it made it impossible to prepare flame-seared meats, charred vegetables, and wok-prepared dishes. This ban would basically put steakhouses, ethnic restaurants, and others out of business. Vice Mayor Chin Ho Liao of San Gabriel said, “You cannot cook with an electric wok. You can cook with them, but it won’t taste good.”
Research shows that both gas and electric stoves pollute, but electric stoves pollute at lower levels. However, critics argue that electricity is more expensive than natural gas and this change will only drive prices up. This makes it especially hard for low-income residents.
Vice Mayor Liao is especially worried about having residents rely solely on the state’s electrical grid, which is already overworked and has resulted in numerous blackouts this past year because of California’s rushed switch to green energy sources. He proposes the development of clean gas from the methane captured from rotting food. This process is called anaerobic digestions. However, more funding and development would have to occur for this to become a reality.
With everything going on in the world and the fight that many restaurants are putting up to simply stay open, this is the last thing needed right now. As Matthew Dolan said, “It’s an added burden on an already burdened industry.”
Photo via Chef Bible