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EPA pressured to review woodstove emissions standards

Oregon and six other states have filed a lawsuit against the organization


by: JASON CHANEY - The review could lead to stricter emissions standards for woodstoves like the one shown here.

Emission standards for wood-burning stoves could get stricter depending upon the outcome of a multi-state lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The State of Oregon and six other states are taking legal action, claiming the federal agency is not following its standards for determining wood-stove certification standards.

“They are supposed to review them periodically and it has been several cycles and they haven't done anything,” said Michael Kron, communications director for the Oregon Department of Justice. “What we are asking the EPA to do is take a look at its regulations in light of currently available technology and determine an appropriate emissions level for wood stoves to be certified.”

Kron stressed that the lawsuit is not necessarily intended to establish a new standard, although that could happen depending on the results of a review.

In Crook County, many homeowners continue to heat their homes with wood-burning stoves. Ochoco National Forest personnel sell firewood cutting permits, and based on the number of people who purchase permits each year, wood stoves still see considerable local use.

“I would say it’s a heavily-used program,” said Patrick Lair, public affairs specialist for Ochoco National Forest. “A lot of homes rely on that fuel wood.”

Bob Layne, a broker with The Associates Real Estate, has reached the same conclusion.

“A lot of people have wood stoves.”

If the emissions standards were further restricted, it would not immediately affect homeowners who use wood-burning stoves.

“It’s not something where you would have to replace your wood stove if it doesn’t meet current certification requirements,” Kron said.

New standards would not affect the business of Prineville-based Sunset Stoves either. Owner Rick Ridenour said that such changes have a greater impact on stove manufacturers, and the new regulations would not likely affect sales of his current inventory.

“Usually, something where they change restrictions like that is phased in,” he said.

However, the change could affect home sales. In Oregon, if a homeowner is selling a house with a wood stove, they have to make sure the stove meets current emission standards. If not, they are required to remove the stove in order to legally sell the home.

Layne said that realtors are put in the position of policing the removal of out-of-compliance wood stoves. While he doesn’t consider that task a big deal, he does feel that a change in standards complicates the home transaction process.

“Right now, the state has a list of certified wood stoves,” Layne said. “It’s pretty easy to go online and figure it out. I’m sure that would happen again, but it makes it harder to track when they start changing the parameters of what certified is.”

At this time, the lawsuit awaits further action, and the future of wood stove requirements remains to be seen.

“We’re just asking the EPA to do what it is legally required to do,” Kron concluded.



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