EPA’s New Rules Concerning Old Wood Stove Burning System a “No Brainier”, Ohio Environmental Council

For nearly 40 years, Don and Jane Bauer have sold wood-burning stove.

They said, wood-burning stoves have been improving.

But not all stoves are as efficient, and some homeowners hold on to their stoves for decades.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency director Gina McCarthy signed new rules limiting pollution from new wood-burning heaters last month.

The U.S. EPA rules, which order more-effective pollution controls, would be phased in over five years, only to new wood-burning heaters and won’t force anyone to get rid of their older models.

The EPA evaluates the rules will minimize fine-particle pollution from wood-burning stoves by almost 70 percent and save an average of one premature death per day. The rules are the first updates to regulations on wood-burning stoves since 1988.

In an email, director Brennan Howell for the advocacy group Ohio Environmental Council called the new rules “a no-brainer”.

About 10 percent of U.S. households burn wood, and the number depending on it as their primary heating source rose by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2012, the latest year for which federal figures were available. Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said that Ohio has not taken a position on the new federal rules.

According to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. EPA data from a 2011 inventory, Ohio ranks sixth in the total amount of soot emissions sent into the atmosphere from residential wood-burning, 15th nationwide in per-capita emissions from residential wood-burning.

The Ohio EPA drafted rules in 2008 to limit emissions from wood-burning stoves, but backed off those rules after a public commotion. The Ohio EPA at the time said it would let local communities regulate wood-fired boilers.

Griesmer said that the Ohio EPA then knew that the federal government was considering regulating wood-burning stoves.

Ohio communities, including Fairfield, Madeira, Springdale and Monroe in southwestern Ohio and Garrettsville in northeastern Ohio, have banned outdoor, wood-fired boilers.

Griesmer said “We thought (manufacturers) would be better regulated federally”.

In addition, soot is formed by pollution from diesel engines and coal-burning power plants. It builds in the air and can be inhaled where the particles can worsen breathing conditions. Breathing soot can also tigger heart attacks? But burning wood is cheaper for some.

John Clarke, who has heated his Near East Side house with a combination of natural gas and an outdoor wood-fired boiler for eight years, says that he has saved thousands of dollars. His family uses 14 to 16 cords of wood each winter.

“I feel that it’s clean enough. But obviously there is smoke that comes out. I’m burning wood, right?” he said.

Mr. Bauer said larger companies that make wood-burning stoves already mostly comply with the new EPA rules. But he worries that smaller manufacturers might go out of business.

He believes the U.S. EPA should focus on larger polluters.

“There’s so many more particles that come from cars and trucks,” he said. “They’re picking on the little guys, really.”

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Comments

  1. Sam says

    With Outdoor Wood Boilers creating controversy across the state citizens have educated themselves concerning the dangers of wood smoke. No longer is wood smoke accepted by the majority as a safe alternative for heating. As such, politicians find themselves in an uncomfortable position between those who heat with wood and those affected by incinerator type devices that saturate neighboring properties with pollution.

    Complaints to the EPA rose significantly as a result of OWB woodsmoke which finally triggered the agency to update NSPS. Obviously, this action created an uproar from those who burn wood and politicians were forced into a dilemma. In some states the easy way out was to create statutes stating they would not enforce the new federal law. But what they didn’t do is explain the ramifications of such an approach.

    The states electing not to enforce the updated NSPS wood burning law does not preclude citizens from filing law suits. Even if filed in “state courts” judges are compelled to follow federal law based on the Supremacy Clause. If a person in one of these states installs an illegal wood burning device and is subsequently sued by a neighbor their insurance may not cover the legal costs. If a fire results from an illegal wood burning device the insurance company may not pay the claim. Any manufacturer or distributor who sells an illegal product in a state that refuses to enforce the law can still be sued if the smoke and odor causes the neighbor to lose the enjoyment of their property, suffers personal injury, or they incur a decrease in property value. Any township that allows an installation of an illegal device or refuses to respond to smoke complaints emitted from the device can be sued. A fire or other injury occurring within any township where an illegal device was allowed to be installed could also have legal ramifications for the township board. Further, because the device in question is illegal to manufacture and purchase, owners will be at a severe disadvantage in court if a neighbor petitions for an injunction. As a result, not only do they risk losing their investment but could be required to pay the attorney fees of both sides. Lastly, unless a state asks the EPA for delegation of authority concerning the law, the EPA regional offices can respond to any complaint from a citizen putting the manufacturer of the device in legal jeopardy. It’s important to understand that the politicians espousing that they’re taking a stand on this matter are simply creating political theater by creating appeasement laws. If you’re sued don’t expect the Attorney General to show up in court. The states electing to take this stance are only saying they won’t enforce the law, nothing more. In essence, the politicians can created a feel good statute to placate their constituencies without further discourse.

    Sam

  2. Sam says

    With Outdoor Wood Boilers creating controversy across the state citizens have educated themselves concerning the dangers of wood smoke. No longer is wood smoke accepted by the majority as a safe alternative for heating. As such, politicians find themselves in an uncomfortable position between those who heat with wood and those affected by incinerator type devices that saturate neighboring properties with pollution.

    Complaints to the EPA rose significantly as a result of OWB woodsmoke which finally triggered the agency to update NSPS. Obviously, this action created an uproar from those who burn wood and politicians were forced into a dilemma. In some states the easy way out was to create statutes stating they would not enforce the new federal law. But what they didn’t do is explain the ramifications of such an approach.

    The states electing not to enforce the updated NSPS wood burning law does not preclude citizens from filing law suits. Even if filed in “state courts” judges are compelled to follow federal law based on the Supremacy Clause. If a person in one of these states installs an illegal wood burning device and is subsequently sued by a neighbor their insurance may not cover the legal costs. If a fire results from an illegal wood burning device the insurance company may not pay the claim. Any manufacturer or distributor who sells an illegal product in a state that refuses to enforce the law can still be sued if the smoke and odor causes the neighbor to lose the enjoyment of their property, suffers personal injury, or they incur a decrease in property value. Any township that allows an installation of an illegal device or refuses to respond to smoke complaints emitted from the device can be sued. A fire or other injury occurring within any township where an illegal device was allowed to be installed could also have legal ramifications for the township board. Further, because the device in question is illegal to manufacture and purchase, owners will be at a severe disadvantage in court if a neighbor petitions for an injunction. As a result, not only do they risk losing their investment but could be required to pay the attorney fees of both sides. Lastly, unless a state asks the EPA for delegation of authority concerning the law, the EPA regional offices can respond to any complaint from a citizen putting the manufacturer of the device in legal jeopardy. It’s important to understand that the politicians espousing that they’re taking a stand on this matter are simply creating political theater by creating appeasement laws. If you’re sued don’t expect the Attorney General to show up in court. The states electing to take this stance are only saying they won’t enforce the law, nothing more. In essence, the politicians can created a feel good statute to placate their constituencies without further discourse.

    Sam

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