In January, Climate Action Campaign (CAC) released Orange County’s first-ever Climate Action Plan report card for OC cities, providing an assessment of climate planning by OC cities and an easy-to-use tool for advocates and cities who want a climate safe future. One thing the report card made abundantly clear is that Orange County and all of its cities are failing – badly. 

The county doesn’t have a clear strategy on how to reduce emissions, nor do 28 of our 34 cities. And of the six that do have Climate Action Plans, none of them received a score above 40% from CAC. Yikes.

At the same time, the general public is learning that the health risks of gas stoves are as bad as secondhand smoke, causing 1 in 8 cases of childhood asthma

Fortunately, there’s a tried and true solution right in front of us that reduces both emissions and health risks – building electrification. Buildings account for a whopping 60 to 80% of emissions in North American cities, and policies that ensure new buildings are all electric and help retrofit old ones will go a long way toward reducing that number. At the same time, getting gas out of buildings improves indoor air quality and protects our health.

The gas industry publicly acknowledged the risks of burning gas inside homes as early as 1907 (not a typo), but continued to aggressively market its dangerous product and stymie public health advocates’ attempts at regulation through the 20th century and beyond. As a result, more than 40 million homes in the U.S. have a gas stove today.

The gas industry knew it was poisoning families in their homes, but as one executive admitted in an email to colleagues, “if we wait to promote natural gas stoves until we have scientific data that they are not causing any air quality issues, we’ll be done.”

The industry knew that gas stoves emit dangerous levels of benzene, formaldehyde, and other pollution that causes cancer, asthma and other diseases. And yet it tried to keep it a secret so they could continue making money selling its dangerous products. After all, who cares about 650,000 cases of childhood asthma when there’s money to be made?

Telling people to run the overhead fan and open windows while cooking doesn’t solve the problem – especially when you consider that gas stoves leak carcinogens like benzene into your home even when they’re off.

The dangers of gas stoves to children is scary, but even for those with the means to do so, changing out appliances can be frustrating and expensive. For those without, it is even harder, given that many of the people stuck with gas stoves are historically marginalized Black, Latino, and low-income renters who already suffer the consequences of dangerous air from other sources. 

If you can afford to replace your stove, the Inflation Reduction Act offers subsidies for to help you make the switch. Induction stoves are quickly becoming the preferred method of cooking for home and professional chefs, and cook much faster and more precisely than gas or electric coil stoves. 

However, there’s only so much individuals can and should be expected to do to shift an entire infrastructure that the fossil fuel industry deliberately grew for decades. Luckily, we’re not alone.

Over the past three years, nearly 100 local governments across North America and 74 in California have taken matters into their own hands by passing policies that require new buildings to be all-electric and help retrofit existing buildings.’s SAFE Cities initiative supported more than 30 local municipalities in passing or introducing all-electric ordinances last year, and works with local lawmakers and concerned residents in getting gas out of their community.

Unfortunately, Irvine is currently the only Orange County city working on a building electrification policy – that must change.

Eventually we will look back at gas stoves the same way we do lead paint and asbestos – and it’s our responsibility to protect children, pregnant women, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations by acting now.

The path forward is clear. Local action can protect our health and the climate, and this strategy is terrifying fossil fuel industry executives. Local governments are leading the charge to protect people from gas, and the movement is growing every day. 

Orange County needs to get on board.

Nathan Taft is the digital and communications lead for’s SAFE Cities initiative that works to phase out fossil fuels and fast track clean energy at the local level.

Alexis Hernandez is the Orange County Climate Equity Organizer and Advocate with Climate Action Campaign, a nonprofit climate policy watchdog whose mission is to end the climate crisis through equitable, effective policy action.

Opinions expressed in community opinion pieces belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

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