Monday, March 9, 2015

Heat Nazis

No wood stoves for you.

Citing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency now is pressing ahead with regulations to significantly limit the pollution from newly manufactured residential wood heaters.  But some of the states with the most wood smoke -- including Minnesota and Wisconsin -- are refusing to go along, claiming that the EPA's new rules could leave low-income residents in the cold.
The new designs will naturally increase cost.  When the current generation of stoves requires replacement, people may not be able to afford the new, government-approved stoves.  Further, if the stove design is anything like the low-flow flush toilet design, a person might have to sit on top of them to keep warm.

The Missouri legislature has already told the EPA that our DNR will not enforce the new regulations.  This is as it should be.  If a city or a particular part of a city were to choose to strictly regulate or even outlaw wood-burning stoves, furnaces and fireplaces, a person who found this unacceptable could move.  If the whole country does it to appease a handful of hysterical hypochondriacs in suburbia, where do you go?  

I can understand in congested urban areas there being an issue with wood smoke if everyone in the neighborhood used a wood stove or furnace as their primary heat source.  That doesn't happen.  Given the cost and supply of suitable hardwood, such a scenario is unrealistic.  Even with pellet stoves, which are newer and likely produce "cleaner" smoke (I have no experience in this area), there are probably constraints on availability of fuel.

I thought we were all about "renewables".  No bald eagle has ever been chopped in half or fried in mid-air by smoke from a wood stove.   Wood is renewable.  It is also low-tech.  In a rural setting, on fairly small acreage, a person can be self-sustaining with wood as a heat and cooking source.  My family did it for many years.

The bureaucrats in Washington come up with these ridiculous demands without realizing there are people out here in the country who would find this a genuine hardship as well as cause for additional animosity toward the government.  If you have wood as your primary heat source, there are times when it is a matter of life and death.  It gets cold enough where I live that a person could die without heat. 

Also, I would think that the amount of smoke and the noxiousness of the smoke has as much to do with the quality of wood as the quality of stove -- if not more.  I've seen good, solid, well-seasoned oak smoke that was barely a smudge on a winter's day.  People use heating oil up in Yankee-land.  I am sure that is worse than anything coming out of a hillbilly's chimney because it's in our blood -- as "Copper Kettle" says:

Build your fire with hickory,
Hickory, ash, or oak.
Don't use no green or rotten wood,
They'll get by you by your smoke.

Several years ago there was a proposal floated to have greater regulation of rural water usage in some "sensitive" areas of the Ozarks.  Part of the proposal suggested putting a meter on private wells.  I don't know that I would actually kill someone who tried to put a meter on my well, but I don't know for sure that I wouldn't, either.  I would certainly attempt to make the poor sucker tasked with the job question the wisdom of those who sent him out. I'm afraid there are people out here who would be the same way about the government trying to take away their "heatin' stove". 


  1. From what I've seen, pellet stoves burn very clean. I'm guessing that you could have a whole neighborhood running them and you wouldn't notice it. It would be a great business, too. Each house would have a hopper on the side, and the pellet man could come by with his truck and fill the hoppers. Pellets could be locally produced. Winwinwin! BUT, oh, CO2. Musn't have that.

    Speaking of energy did you see on WRSA that a wind/renewable energy company is buying a coal plant in Florida just to shut it down? (I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.) How did the wind/renewable company get so wealthy? Couldn't have been an unfair advantage from taxpayer money could it?

  2. Sounds like your EPA folks have been on a fact-finding tour of New Zealand, particularly our cities. Here too we have had our efficient log burners outlawed in favour of those you cannot simply ‘bank up’ with wood over night, and still be rewarded with heat in the morning.

    Open fires are verboten.

    Coal fires are verboten.

    Everything is verboten unless it is expressly permitted.

    We checked out pellet fires. They are efficient but require an internal fan to push the heat out of the unit and into your room. If you lived on an airport flight path you might not notice the noise they generate.

    In the end, when we recently built our first new house, we installed underfloor heating based upon water pipes in the concrete floor, heated by a diesel burner.

    Our 'EPA' is happy for us to burn diesel apparently.

  3. Buying out the competition. Isn't that why they went after Standard Oil back in Teddy Roosevelt's day? I guess it's OK now so long as you recycle those taxpayer dollars back into the campaign coffers of the right politicians.

    My niece in WI went with that same kind of underfloor heating. They like it really well.

  4. I reckon we will see a lot more of this bureaucratic fascism before Obama leaves office.

  5. I have electric heat but I do have a woodstove I could use, just in case. That thing really makes the place toasty! Hardly ever use it though, which is why I occasionally geta bird or bat stuck in it.
    Always lots of fun getting them out of the house. :)

  6. I guess my primary would be propane. Every time I order a load, I want to start singing like J.J. Cale: Propane! Or I think of Hank Hill.

    I have a heat-pump, and I might replace the one I have with a ground-source heat-pump one of these days. I think I could run that off a solar array pretty easily.