The Environmental Protection Agency is set to finalize a set of regulations in February that critics say will effectively ban production of 80 percent of the wood- and pellet-burning stoves in America.
The EPA had published a set of proposed regulations more than a year ago, and since then had accepted public comments.
But the regulations already are having an impact. An advertisement for the Central Boiler Company says that company’s classic outdoor wood furnaces will be outlawed by the new regulations and will not be available later this spring.
The EPA has argued that the new regulations would improve air quality. The regulations require stoves to burn 85 percent cleaner.
“Residential wood smoke causes many counties in the U.S. to either exceed the EPA’s health-based national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particles or places them on the cusp of exceeding those standards,” the EPA previously said. “To the degree that older, higher emitting, less efficient wood heaters are replaced by newer heaters that meet the requirements of this rule, or better, the emissions would be reduced, the efficiencies would be increased and fewer health impacts should occur.”
It would be the first new standards on stoves since the 1980s.
Critics say it is government overreach lacking common sense – and note that people have heated their home with wood for thousands of years.
“It seems that even wood isn’t green or renewable enough anymore,” columnist Larry Bell wrote onForbes.com “… [It’s] the oldest heating method known to mankind and mainstay of rural homes and many of our nation’s poorest residents. The agency’s stringent one-size-fits-all rules apply equally to heavily air-polluted cities and far cleaner plus typically colder off-grid wilderness areas such as large regions of Alaska and the American West.”
About 12 percent of all homes rely primarily on wood, Bell said, quoting census data. The regulations won’t force Americans to get rid of their old stoves, but the regulations will ban the resell and the trading in of those stoves.
Local and State Governments Ban Wood Burning
Some local governments are going even farther than the EPA. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency recently banned wood burning in King County (Seattle) for several days because of stagnant weather conditions. The Seattle Times reported that persons who violate the ban could face a $1,000 fine.
Elsewhere, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has proposed a ban on wood burning between November 1 and March 15 for several counties around Salt Lake City. All coal and wood burning would be illegal during that period in Salt Lake, Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Utah, Tooele Utah and Weber counties in the proposal. Only persons who used wood as their sole means of heating would be allowed to keep burning.
An organization called Utahns for Responsible Burning has been formed to fight the ban, The Deseret Newsreported. The News called the ban the nation’s toughest wood-burning ban.
“A full ban would punish those who have invested thousands of dollars upgrading their wood stoves to EPA-compliant models that burn more cleanly,” Brigham Young University Mechanical Engineering Professor Ed Red said of the ban.