The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit agreed to yet another extension to the lawsuit brought by the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) and the Pellet Fuel Institute (PFI) against portions of the EPA’s 2015 residential wood heater regulations.
HPBA “hopes to be back in talks with the EPA” said Rachel Feinstein, Government Affairs Manager for HPBA. In the motion
requesting the extension, HPBA explained that talks between them and HPBA had broken down under the Obama Administration, but after Trump’s election, HPBA is again “attempting to discuss with DOJ and EPA whether the agencies are willing to engage in further discussions concerning the Rule.”
The Trump Administration has been re-opening rule making on many regulations, but some observers say it will likely be an uphill battle for the hearth industry because the EPA is already contending with many higher profile rules.
In addition, even if the EPA were to agree to review parts of the NSPS, the rule would have to go through the notice and comment process that can take 1 to 3 years, at which point there could be a new President and a new head of the EPA.
The EPA can revise regulations at any point, with or without a pending lawsuit.
It can commit to a new rule making process on selected parts of the NSPS, but it cannot necessarily guarantee any particular outcome.
In cases of voluntary remand, petitioners can also lose their right to appeal.
If the case goes to court in 2018, the outcome partially depends on which panel of judges get appointed to the case and the result could be more unpredictable and potentially more favorable to the groups that intervened in the suit – the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Council and Environment and Human Health.
If the case goes to court, the best outcome for HPBA would likely be a settlement agreement that puts part of the NSPS on hold until another rule making is complete.
HPBA and PFI now have until August 25 to file their brief laying out their grievances with the new regulations.
HPBA is not challenging the requirement that when tested with cribwood, wood stoves must emit no more than 2 grams an hour as of 2020.
This means that all stove manufacturers remain under this deadline to retest their stoves to achieve 2 grams an hour or less under the revised test method.
All stoves that tested at 2 or under prior to May 15, 2015 still have to retest to be compliant with the 2020 limits.
HPBA is challenging the requirement that if a stove is voluntarily tested with cordwood, it must achieve 2.5 grams per hour or less. HPBA asserts that since there is not yet an approved test method, it was premature for the EPA to set an emission limit. HPBA is also challenging emission limits for wood and pellet boilers and furnaces.
|President Trump shaking hands with
his EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, a
prominent climate change skeptic.
The Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) moved to delay its lawsuit to allow the Trump administration time to review the settlement proposals that HPBA submitted in 2015 and 2016 and re-evaluate whether some issues can be settled out of court. The EPA and the environmental groups who intervened did not oppose the delay. They filed their motion
with the US Court of Appeals weeks before they would have had to meet the first filing deadline.
The original suit was consolidated to include challenges from HPBA, the Pellet Fuel Institute (FPI), Tulikivi and Richard Burns and Company. In November 2016, the EPA informed HPBA that it would not continue in settlement talks, but they did reach an amicable settlement with Tulikivi, a masonry heater company that wanted masonry heaters to be a regulated technology under the NSPS. The EPA is seeking additional information with regard to PFI’s lawsuit.
On March 16, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals approved the 90-day delay sought by HPBA and set a new briefing schedule
for the parties that plays out through the end of 2017. HPBA must file its brief with the court on June 26, laying out its final list of issues that it intends to litigate. After that, the EPA responds with its positions on September 26, revealing how it will defend those portions of their regulations.
Less than a month later, the interveners must file their briefs. Interveners include the American Lung Association, Clean Air Council, and the Environment and Human Health, Inc. They are represented by Timothy Ballo of Earthjustice.
HPBA is simultaneously moving a bill in Congress to delay the 2020 provisions of the NSPS by 3 years, which in turn will give the legal proceedings time to play out. Another bill would erase the wood heater NSPS altogether. HPBA does not support this, but some individual boiler and pellet producers support it.
“The Trump Administration is a wild card for all parties in the lawsuit and the Alliance for Green Heat urges all parties to support the core provisions of the NSPS,” said John Ackerly of the Alliance for Green Heat. “For the future of wood heating in the US, we need to protect the transition to cord wood testing and adopt affordable test methods that reflect how consumers use stoves,” Ackerly added.
A blog “Hearth industry lists grounds for lawsuit against EPA” by the Alliance for Green Heat in 2015 laid out more details of the substance and process of the lawsuit. One often overlooked point is that HPBA does not appear to be challenging the 2020 emission standards for wood or pellet stoves, but only for outdoor wood boilers and warm air furnaces.
Petitioners’ Brief(s) June 26, 2017
Respondent’s Brief September 26, 2017
Intervenor for Respondent’s Brief October 18, 2017
Petitioners’ Reply Brief(s) November 8, 2017
Deferred Appendix November 15, 2017
Final Briefs November 22, 2017
Updated: May 31, 2015 On April 15, three air quality groups filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit that a hearth industry group is bringing against the EPA over their new wood stove and boiler regulations. These groups said that their interest lies in “defending the Final Rule against challenges brought by industry groups seeking […]
David Chung is adirect attorney for HPBA The US Courtroom of Appeals has consolidated at the very least 3 of the lawsuits in opposition to the EPA’s wooden heater rules collectively into a single lawsuit.  The Courtroom requested these a few parties, the Fireplace, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), the Pellet Fuels Institute and Tulikivi, […]
On April 15, three air quality groups filed a motion to join the lawsuit that a hearth industry group is bringing against the EPA over their new wood stove and boiler regulations. These groups said that their interest lies in “defending the Final Rule against challenges brought by industry groups seeking to further weaken or delay […]
Posted by Earth Stove on February 11, 2014 with No Comments
In November, 2013 the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) joined a lawsuit brought against the EPA arguing that its members have and are suffered economic injury as a result of the EPA’s failure to enact the NSPS in a timely way. The lawsuit had already been brought by non-profits that are at odds with […]