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White House climate czar met privately with eco group pushing gas stove bans


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FIRST ON FOX: White House climate czar Ali Zaidi, who also serves as an assistant to President Biden, privately met with three officials with the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an environmental group pushing gas stove bans.

Zaidi met Jules Kortenhorst, RMI's CEO at the time; John Coequyt, RMI's government affairs director; and Sarah Ladislaw, RMI's former managing director and U.S. program leader, on March 17, 2022, in the West Wing of the White House, according to visitor logs reviewed by Fox News Digital. The three officials have extensive records advocating for net-zero and climate policies weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels.

"This meeting was about adding to President Biden’s historic record of bringing more manufacturing jobs back to America and lowering energy costs, not a debunked conspiracy theory," White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan told Fox News Digital. "While the cynics try to serve up a story about Zaidi without sizzle or steak, he is working overtime to deliver substance — good jobs, cost savings, and a stronger American energy sector than ever before."

The topics discussed during the four-person meeting weren't included in the visitor logs. RMI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

INTERNAL BIDEN ADMIN MEMO SHOWS IT WAS SERIOUS ABOUT BANNING GAS STOVES BEFORE PUBLIC UPROAR

The revelation that Zaidi, who leads the White House Climate Policy Office, met with leaders of RMI comes shortly after Fox News Digital reported Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm met with Kortenhorst a year earlier. The Department of Energy said the June 2021 meeting focused on ginning up support for the infrastructure law passed later that year, not home appliances.

But the White House meeting indicates how the Biden administration has developed a close relationship with RMI, an influential nonprofit that works to accelerate the global green energy transition, particularly through economy-wide electrification. 

The White House visitor logs also showed that Kortenhorst and Coequyt were also in attendance at the White House ceremony celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. RMI's Twitter account thanked Biden for inviting members of the RMI public policy team to the White House for the event.

RMI staff also raised $13,132 for Biden's campaign in 2020, according to election filings. And Ladislaw, who was one of the officials who participated in the March 2022 meeting with Zaidi, departed RMI last month to join the White House National Security Council in a climate and energy role.

Another former top RMI official, Elizabeth Hartman, joined the Department of Energy as its strategic innovation and outreach program manager this month. Hartman had worked at RMI in various roles including chief of staff and the manager of the group's electricity practice.

"Across the United States, millions of homes and apartments rely on gas appliances for heating and cooking," RMI states on its website. "Burning gas in buildings is not only a threat to climate action but also to human health, as these appliances are sources of indoor air pollution."

DEMOCRAT-LED CITIES ARE ALREADY MOVING FORWARD WITH GAS STOVE BANS THAT WILL AFFECT MILLIONS

RMI recently made headlines after it funded a study that highlighted public health dangers posed by gas stove usage. The study was cited in a Bloomberg article in early January that included comments from a Consumer Product Safety Commission member who told the outlet a gas stove ban was "on the table."

After widespread criticism from industry groups and Republican lawmakers, the White House eventually came out against a gas stove ban, saying it wouldn't support such a measure.

A White House official told Fox News Digital on Saturday that natural gas production is at record highs and is on track to keep growing.

The DOE and other federal agencies, though, have moved forward with hundreds of actions regulating appliances including gas stoves as part of the Biden administration's broader climate agenda over the last year. The actions, which have been supported by pro-electrification groups like RMI, were championed during the White House Electrification Summit in December.

GREEN GROUP INFLUENCING BIDEN ADMIN HAS DEEP TIES TO CHINESE GOVERNMENT

"Are we going to get ahead of the game and harness the full economic opportunity that's in front of us?" Zaidi remarked during the summit. 

"We talk about electric heat pumps, we talk about electric tractors now, we're talking about literally electricity in every sector of the economy," he added. "Industrial processes shifting to electricity, agricultural processes shifting to electricity, buildings shifting to electricity."

Despite hesitance from the White House to support a gas stove ban, Democratic-led cities and states have already approved measures prohibiting natural gas hookups in new construction.

In addition, RMI has significant ties to China's government and Chinese authorities. For example, the group collaborated with the Chinese state agency National Development and Reform Commission to study net-zero pathways for the nation and is a member of the China Clean Transportation Partnership, a green group with significant ties to the Chinese government.

RMI board member Wei Ding previously was the chairman of the China International Capital Corporation, a bank partially owned by the Chinese government.

"Who benefits from all this? Communist China," Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, told the Washington Free Beacon in January. "I think it's time for the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to answer some questions before Congress—under oath."

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