The green energy group behind a study cited in Consumer Product Safety commissioner Richard Trumka Jr.’s call to ban gas stoves has partnered with the Chinese government to implement an “economy-wide transformation” away from oil and gas.
Colorado-based nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, which published the December study that attributes 13 percent of U.S. childhood asthma cases to gas-stove use, is hardly staffed by an objective group of scientists.
The organization is demanding “systemic change and economy-wide transformation” to address a climate crisis it says we must go to great lengths to avoid. In 2013, for example, the Rocky Mountain Institute joined forces with China’s National Development and Reform Commission—the government agency tasked with planning the communist nation’s economy—to produce a report that advised China to replace existing appliances and generators with “clean energy technologies.” The commission went on to set climate goals that included energy reduction targets. When local provinces in 2021 failed to meet those targets, the commission pushed them to implement electricity rations, prompting “dimmed traffic lights that cause chaos” and “half-cooked rice in rice cookers.”
The Rocky Mountain Institute is far from the first green energy group to advocate for the banning of gas stoves, which nearly 40 percent of U.S. homes use. But the nonprofit’s newfound influence reflects the Biden administration’s alignment with the left’s loudest climate activists. President Joe Biden has already proposed a natural gas phaseout in federal buildings, which would ban fossil-fuel equipment in new buildings by 2030. Leading green energy groups applauded the move, which will cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually, the Washington Free Beacon reported in December.
Beyond its public mission statement and work with the Chinese government, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s biases are reflected in its gas-stove study, academic leaders told the Free Beacon. The study—which spans just nine paragraphs—was based on a hodgepodge of different data and methodologies spanning various years and countries, ranging from 2019 U.S. Census data to conclusions from a 2018 analysis in Australia.
Structuring a study that way is questionable, according to Yale University professor of medicine Dr. Harvey Risch. Moreover, the conclusions of the institute’s study differs from what the organization is saying publicly.
“This paper does not do any research on possible association between residential natural gas use and risk of childhood asthma,” Risch told the Free Beacon. “It only calculates a percent of childhood asthma that could be attributable to residential natural gas use and risk of childhood asthma.”
That distinction is important, Risch said, particularly when calling for such a dramatic public policy proposal that would change how tens of millions of Americans prepare their food. The study was also ethically dubious, according to Risch, as its authors stated they held no conflicts of interest despite working for climate change activist groups. The Rocky Mountain Institute’s board, for example, is filled with executives at green energy corporations with a financial interest in banning the use of fossil fuels.
Also included among those board members is Wei Ding, the founder and chairman of the Chinese private equity firm Broad River Capital. Ding started the firm after serving as chairman of the China International Capital Corporation (CICC), a partially state-owned investment bank. Former CICC executives include Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s vice president and right-hand man, Wang Qishan, while the corporation’s website highlights its “deep participation in China’s economic reforms and development” and goal to “serve the nation.” The Rocky Mountain Institute also sits on the China Clean Transportation Partnership, a Chinese green energy nonprofit whose founding members include China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Transport.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R., Ohio), who last week called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to renounce any potential gas-stove ban, said he is alarmed by the institute’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The natural gas industry, Vance said, “is critical to our national security,” and its demise would be a boost to our adversary.
“Who benefits from all this? Communist China,” Vance told the Free Beacon. “I think it’s time for the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to answer some questions before Congress—under oath.”
In addition to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s green energy biases, the nonprofit’s lead authors on the study hold no formal advanced scientific training or education. Talor Gruenwald, who works as a researcher at the group, holds a master of international affairs. Brady Seals, who heads the institute’s “Carbon-Free Buildings” program, graduated with an MBA from the University of South Dakota.
Those facts didn’t stop multiple outlets from covering the study as a disturbing revelation and call for action. The Washington Post ran at least four stories on the study’s findings, with one alleging that gas-stove use “jump-starts childhood asthma.”
“But as more and more information emerges about the health risks—and as the Biden administration focuses in on electrifying household appliances across the country—the move from gas to electric may be a question not of ‘if,’ but of ‘when,'” one of the Post‘s stories concludes.
Trumka, whom Biden tapped as a top federal regulator in 2021, seemingly confirmed that assessment in a Thursday interview. After Trumka’s initial comment floating a gas-stove ban prompted widespread public backlash—and a walkback from the White House—the Democrat told CNN that any regulatory action on the appliance would be “forward-looking” and only apply to “new products.” “We are not looking to go into anyone’s homes and take away items that are already there,” Trumka said. “We don’t do that.”
Those comments likely disappointed the Rocky Mountain Institute, which did not return a request for comment. On Jan. 4, the group—which has pledged to continue its partnership with the Chinese government—explicitly advocated for the removal of existing gas stoves from private homes. “More than 12 percent of U.S. childhood asthma is preventable,” the group said, “if we remove gas stoves from homes and move towards electric stoves instead.”