First page of the Rules archive.

As Utah debates seasonal stove ban, Salt Lake County adopts stricter rules

Posted by Earth Stove on July 10, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,
The proposed state seasonal
ban affects 75% of the Utah
population. 
As Utahns debate a seemingly doomed proposal to ban seasonal stove use,  Utah’s most populous county enacted its own rules banning stove use on both mandatory and voluntary air actions days as of Jan. 1, 2016. In other counties, voluntary air action days continue to be voluntary.

This will impact about half of all wood burning appliances in the non-attainment counties and could contribute significantly to reducing wood smoke.  Salt Lake County has nearly 102,000 wood burning appliances, with fireplaces accounting for a majority of that with 60,000 units, according to EPA figures.  There are nearly 20,000 uncertified wood stoves and about the same number of pellet stoves and certified wood stoves.  

This stove inventory was provided by EPA who use a variety of databases and sources to estimate the deployment of wood burning devices.
The governor’s seasonal ban proposal that would impact 7 counties in and around Salt Lake City is drawing intense and sustained criticism from Utah residents, with only a few people speaking up in support of the ban.  It’s also drawing national attention from the wood stove industry that wants a 2-stage system, where EPA certified stoves could be used in stage 1 and all stove use banned in stage 2.
On the other hand, Salt Lake County, which has a more than a third of the state’s population and nearly half of the population and half the stoves in the Wasatch front non-attainment area, went the opposite direction, including all stoves, certified and uncertified, in both stages of air action days.  “This is a significant measure and with more enforcement could achieve a quarter to a half of the reductions that the Governor’s plan sought,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat.

The issue has become an emotionally charged debate about individual rights vs. government control, striking a nerve within a deeply conservative part of the country.  In the public hearings, many people have testified about not being able to afford any other fuel than wood, and not wanting to be forced to use fossil fuel when they can use a cheaper renewable. 
But for air quality officials, the issue is simply about cleaning up the air and meeting federal air quality goals that are tied to highway funding.  The discussion quickly becomes about what the state can enforce and what it can’t.  The problem is that the state compliance capacity is already overstretched, with little ability to take on wood stoves.
However, that is different in Salt Lake County, which is moving ahead to enact stricter rules.  The County has decided to undertake the investigations of wood burning on mandatory no burn days itself, instead of leaving those to the state, which now only issues the fine.  Typically the initial warning is viewed an education process that leads to compliance, so that while many $ 25 fines have been given, rarely has the maximum of $ 299 been imposed. 
The new Salt Lake County rules, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, were not a reaction to the governor’s proposal or a rejection of the stove industry’s recommendations.  The County’s process began before the state’s process and ended before the stove industry got involved and helped set up the advocacy group Utahns for Responsible Burning.
According to officials at the Salt Lake Country Health Department, there was virtually no support for exempting EPA certified stoves from the county rule.  Both certified and uncertified stoves can produce excessive smoke, depending on operator behavior and moisture content of wood, with uncertified ones performing worse, on average.  While most EPA certified stoves produce 2 to 4.5 grams of particulates an hour in the lab when they are tested with specially prepared dry wood, they often produce far more in the real world.
The Alliance for Green Heat is urging Utah officials to consider phasing out uncertified stoves, since reducing the number of wood stoves will have the biggest impact.  “It may be that only about half of wood burners are really burning responsibly, whether they own a certified or uncertified stove,” Ackerly said.  “The uncertified stoves made before 1988 are now obsolete and most should not be used in densely populated areas,” Ackerly continued.

The current debate over wood heating comes less than 2 years after the outdoor wood boiler industry fought against Utah regulations that would prevent the installation of wood boilers on the Wasatch Front.  That debate also brought national attention of industry who hired lobbyists in Utah.  The industry effort to keep the market for outdoor boilers open in the non-attainment area was partially based on the now discredited argument that outdoor boilers were cleaner than wood stoves.

That case, like the current debate, involved questions of emissions data from test labs vs. emissions in the real world, and the likelihood that operators would be burning responsibly.


Heated Up!

Flurry of Lobbying on Furnaces and Test Methods on Eve of New Stove Rules

Posted by Earth Stove on July 7, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,
The Office of Management and Budget
is in the Old Executive Office Building
next the White House.

Sources confirmed that the EPA is set to announce the new wood heater rules on Tuesday, February 3rd, the court ordered date.  After years of debate and anticipation about cost impacts and emission standards for stoves and outdoor boilers, the issue that has become the most contested on the eve of the announcement is warm air furnaces.

The Office of Management & Budget (OMB) cleared the rule on Feb. 1 “with changes” setting the stage for it to be signed by Administrator McCarthy and publicly released.  (Rules often take 2 – 4 weeks to appear in the Federal Register after they are publicly released by an agency.)

Even though the big decisions were all supposed to be made last fall, there has been intensive lobbying by stakeholders right up until Friday afternoon, January 30th – one business day ahead of the expected announcement. At least 2 groups met with the Obama Administration through the Office of Management & Budget on Friday, January 30th. During January, interest groups had at least six other meetings with OMB, lobbying for last minute changes to the proposed rule.

The patterns, attendees and paperwork left behind at OMB meetings this month offer a unique glimpse into some of the most contested areas of the rule. Thanks to sunshine laws that make records of meetings with government agencies public, the public can see a list of who met with the OMB in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the rule.

The short term fate of warm air furnaces (WAF) appears to be the top priority of the hearth industry because they represent the only product category where most existing models cannot be made or sold for a period of time after the rule becomes law and before they become certified. HPBA participated in two meetings in January along with their legal counsel and consultant, Jack Ferguson, and various of their member companies, including US Stove, Central Boiler, Hardy, Heatmor and Hawken Energy.

Jack Goldman, CEO of the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association, said in a letter to EPA that this is “clearly a death sentence” to most of the companies making warm air furnaces. The EPA says that they do not have the legal authority under the Clean Air Act to delay implementation of emissions standards. Warm air furnaces are the only class of wood heaters that will be required to meet emission standards, but are still unregulated and have little ability to be tested and certified until the rule is announced.  US Stove Co may be the leading manufacturer of warm air furnaces in the U.S. and they often sell for less than $ 2,000 – less than most wood stoves.

Another hot topic that emerged in recent months is a dispute over the opposite end of the spectrum from unregulated hot air furnaces – high performance indoor boilers, often made in Europe, but now being made in the US. The EPA certified test labs refuse to use a test method for these appliances developed by DOE’s Brookhaven National Lab and funded by NYSERDA, which captures some start-up emissions and uses cord wood instead of cribs. This is emblematic of a long simmering rift between test methods for outdoor wood boilers and European style indoor boilers with thermal storage, which offer the potential for cleaner combustion. NYSERDA and Econoburn, a NY manufacturer who makes these furnaces ask, “Who should really benefit? Those who innovate or those who refuse to?”

Other meetings in January with OMB and key stakeholders include one with about a dozen air quality agencies and states; with representatives of the Pellet Fuels Institute and a pellet testing facility; and with Intertek Test labs. Attendees in meeting between OMB and indoor and outdoor boilers and furnace manufacturers, and with NYSERDA and New York manufacturers are also in the public record.

If participants of the meetings provided OMB with documents, those documents are also public. Three key documents were provided this month, two from HPBA on a their legal argument (PDF) to delay compliance for hot air furnaces and a survey (PDF) commissioned by HPBA of HPBA member retailers on sell through trends. Four of the groups that met with OMB did not leave materials and there is as of now no record of the topics raised at those meeting. The only other document from the final month of intensive lobbying was from NYSERDA, NESCAUM and New York based companies (powerpoint).


Heated Up!

What Consumers Need to Know about New EPA Wood Stove Rules

Posted by Earth Stove on June 26, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

Updated: May 31, 2015 In the long lead-up to the EPA’s new rules on wood and pellet stoves and boilers, there have been many claims, predictions and fears.  Here is a summary of the key points in the rule that will impact you, the consumer. The rule becomes law on Friday, May 15, 2015 but don’t […]

Air Quality Groups Be a part of Lawsuit more than EPA Stove and Boiler Rules

Posted by Earth Stove on April 25, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

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 […]

New EPA Stove Rules Begin Cleaner Chapter for Wooden Heating

Posted by Earth Stove on February 6, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

Statement by the Alliance for Green Heat on the Wood Heater NSPS Key EPA architects of this NSPS includeGreg Green, left, and Gil Wood,  right  andAmanda Simcox. Gil retired on February 3.  Overall, the EPA did a good job and released a fair rule that includes many compromises between industry and air quality agencies.  We […]

Citizen Feedback on EPA’s Stove Rules Trending Favorably

Posted by Earth Stove on April 3, 2014 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

We are now earlier the 50 % way mark for the duration of the ninety-day comment period and, as expected, almost all the responses posted so considerably are by citizen stakeholders.&nbsp Typically, the firms, governmental agencies, and non-profits who have the most skills hold out until finally the previous 7 days, or the final working […]

Pro-wood heating group suggests EPA rules sensible and will help industry increase

Posted by Earth Stove on January 4, 2014 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

The Alliance for Green Heat welcomed the release of proposed EPA laws on residential wooden and pellet heating products, expressing that new, stricter emission requirements “will support The us embrace wood and pellet heating as a crucial renewable power that can help significantly lessen fossil gasoline usage.” More than ten million American homes heat with […]

Invoice to overturn out of doors wood boiler rules fails to pass Utah Legislature

Posted by Earth Stove on March 19, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah – The Republican dominated Utah Senate upheld laws on outside wood boilers by not voting on a invoice that experienced very easily handed the Utah Residence. &nbsp The monthly bill, HB 394, would have overturned restrictions on outside boilers that was handed nearly unanimously by a Property committee and then by […]

Utah Adopts Innovative Outside Boiler Rules

Posted by Earth Stove on February 14, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

Alliance for Environmentally friendly Warmth, February 11, 2013 – A last moment attempt by a producer to derail new outside boiler rules in Utah unsuccessful. The State’s Air Good quality Board handed progressive and well balanced restrictions that permit the installation of EPA experienced outdoor boilers in rural counties but ban them in populated counties […]