Wood burning and the EPA's new proposal

Thinking of upgrading to a new EPA certified woodstove?   Your choices are about to become limited to catalytic and certain hybrid models if the proposed EPA standard for woodstove emissions is not modified.  The new EPA proposal of 1.3g/hr. will virtually wipe out over 97% of the wood stove models currently manufactured.  Nor will pellet stoves be exempt from new standards.

The current rule (1988) established an emission standard of 4.1 g/hr for catalytic stoves and 7.5  g/hr. for the non-catalytic stoves. Most EPA certified stove models generally outperform the current standards.  Jotul Stoves, for example, operate at less than half the allowable limit for most of their non-catalytic models ( 2.0-4.0 g/hr range vs. the  7.5 g/hr allowable limit).  But none of Jotul’s existing models will meet the 1.3g/hr proposed standard.

So logically, phasing in a new standard at perhaps half of what is now in effect and maintaining both cat and non-cat model categories would allow for a significant reduction from the current emission levels and preserve the viability of the majority of existing wood stove  manufacturers and their dealerships.

This proposal for cleaner air via a new mandate is flawed in other ways.  Studies suggest that only about 30% of the stoves currently in use in the Unites States today meet even the older 1988 standard.  Changing out these older models to the existing standard would likely have a far more reaching outcome than changing the standard.

The hearth industry is comprised of micro sized businesses. Many stove shops lack a relationship with the few companies offering stoves that will be in compliance. Some stove manufacturers will not have the R&D funds to retool and redesign and those that do successfully redesign their products will pass significant costs on to the consumer, perhaps as much as $500.00 per model. And who are these consumers?  Most stove purchasers are selecting wood heat as a viable low cost home heating option.  This new proposal will force higher costs on the consumer who can least afford it.

Charlene Mazzeo is a co-owner of a hearth store in Maine and sells both catalytic and non-catalytic stove models.

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