Smoke Out: EPA Proposes Regs for Wood-Burners

Yorkville, UNITED STATES: Ann Undesser loads a wood burning stove 24 October 2005 at her residence in Yorkville, Illinois, which along with two corn burning stoves she plans on using to heat her home this winter. Home heating costs are projected to soar throughout the country this winter, impacting millions of Americans already dealing with the high costs of gasoline. Areas in the Midwest may see a heating expenses rise of more than 77 percent this winter due to the double-digit price increase of home heating oil and natural gas. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:58 a.m.

The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency re­leased a pro­pos­al Fri­day to tight­en and ex­pand air-pol­lu­tion stand­ards for res­id­en­tial wood­stoves and heat­ers.

The re­vised stand­ards, once im­ple­men­ted, will res­ult in an 80 per­cent re­duc­tion in emis­sions of par­tic­u­late mat­ter re­leased from wood-burn­ers, the agency said in a press re­lease an­noun­cing the pro­pos­al. EPA also es­tim­ates the con­trols will yield a sav­ings of between $118 to $267 in pub­lic-health be­ne­fits for each dol­lar paid out to com­ply with the reg­u­la­tion.

The agency has the au­thor­ity to reg­u­late tox­ic pol­lut­ants from wood­stoves and heat­ers man­u­fac­tured for res­id­en­tial use un­der the Clean Air Act. Fri­day’s pro­posed up­date marks the first time the agency has moved to strengthen emis­sions lim­its since they were first is­sued in 1988.

In ad­di­tion to tight­en­ing pol­lu­tion con­trols, the agency’s pro­pos­al casts a wider net than the 1988 stand­ards. The new stand­ard would reg­u­late air pol­lut­ants from a num­ber of wood-burn­ing devices not pre­vi­ously covered, in­clud­ing out­door wood boil­ers.

The rule does not ap­ply to fire­places and would only im­pact wood­stoves and heat­ers made in 2015 or later. Once the pro­posed rule­mak­ing is pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Re­gister it will be sub­ject to a 90-day com­ment peri­od. A fi­nal rule is not due out un­til 2015.

While the news will likely draw cri­ti­cism from con­ser­vat­ive groups wary of fed­er­al at­tempts to reg­u­late air qual­ity, it met with praise from at least one en­vir­on­ment­al ad­vocacy or­gan­iz­a­tion.

“We are de­lighted that, at long last, the U.S. EPA is mov­ing for­ward with a pro­pos­al to re­duce dan­ger­ous emis­sions from res­id­en­tial wood heat­ing devices such as out­door wood boil­ers,” Frank O’Don­nell, a spokes­man for Clean Air Watch, wrote in a blog post on Fri­day. “Smoke gets in your eyes, as the old song goes,” he con­tin­ued. “But it also gets in your lungs, where it can cause real dam­age.”

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