Tuesday, February 25, 2014

EPA Rules Against Renewables

Try and imagine humans surviving without fire.  Humans have been burning whatever the local environment offered as combustible material -- peat to buffalo chips to whale blubber -- as long as we have been on the planet.  Without doubt, the most common fuel for our fires has been wood.  We have heated and cooked with wood.  My grandmother never cooked on anything else.  My mother fed us off a wood stove for half her life.  Wood heat kept me warm every winter until I headed off to college. 

But wood smoke, don't you know, is a pollutant:

A federal proposal to clean up the smoke wafting from wood-burning stoves has sparked a backlash from some rural residents, lawmakers and manufacturers who fear it could close the damper on one of the oldest ways of warming homes on cold winter days.

Proposed regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would significantly reduce the amount of particle pollution allowed from the smokestacks of new residential wood-powered heaters.

The Missouri legislature has a bill to thwart the bureaucratic regulation of wood-burning stoves and furnaces.  This would be a good thing.  If there really is some problem with wood stove pollution then it should be debated publicly and regulated by statute -- not by regulatory fiat. 

I have seen smoke from chimneys hug the ground or fly straight up toward the clouds.  The heated air expelled through the chimney will create a current that carries the particles, the carbon dioxide, water vapor and other combustion products until it cools enough to be dissipate.  When that happens, the heavier materials will end up on the ground.  Probably, if you were heating every house in Kansas City and Jackson County with wood-burning furnaces, it would get pretty smoky. 

We aren't, and we won't.  The price and supply of wood, including wood pellets, will see to that.   

According to the linked article there are only about 12 million wood stoves in the United States -- 9 million of which are less than half the "efficiency" required by the EPA.  Existing stoves would be grandfathered in -- but that is hardly the point.  This is about control through intimidation:

Some manufacturers contend the EPA's proposed standards are so stringent that the higher production costs would either force them out of business or raise prices so high that many consumers could no longer afford their products.

"There's not a stove in the United States that can pass the test right now — this is the death knoll of any wood burning," Reg Kelly, the founder of Earth Outdoor Furnaces in Mountain Grove, told Missouri lawmakers during a recent hearing.
We know Reg.  He's one of us.  Believe me, Reg is not worried about his furnace business.  He'll make it fine without that little sideline.  Like the rest of us, he believes in what is right, believes in liberty, and the smell of seasoned oak when you come in from the cold.


  1. Was going to comment sooner but Ihad to get the wood stove going here in the office. Where was I...

    This past week, a Missouri House committee endorsed a revised measure that proposes to ban state environmental officials from regulating residential wood heaters unless authorized by the Legislature.


    And last fall, New York's attorney general led a coalition of seven states in a federal lawsuit seeking to compel to the EPA to adopt new emission limits on wood-fired boilers

    I hate these guys.

    This is a local, maybe regional problem.

  2. Exactly. There could be places where it would be a problem -- thermal inversions and all that. I have stood on the 11th floor of a north Dallas office building and observed the rusty orange haze arising from the morning commute to be blown away before noon. It depends on where you live. Leave it to the locals.