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EPA management sharpens focus on energy emissions from wood stoves

EPA management sharpens focus on energy emissions from wood stoves
EPA management sharpens focus on energy emissions from wood stoves

EPA management has long been focused on reducing energy emissions as best as possible. Recent controversial measures taken by the administration concerning the levels allowable by individual states have received plenty of focus in this light. The expectations of companies' output continue to change, with new standards suggested across the country.

One of the biggest changes comes from EPA rules soon to be put in to place which will significantly limit pollution from newly created residential wood heaters, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported. Different regions around the country have different rates of particle emissions from residential wood burning, but the potential changes that could be implemented are giving many people unease.

The rules, which will be phased in through 2020, apply only to new wood heaters and won't force any users to remove older models. Still, multiple states are fighting back against the expected rules in different ways. Missouri and Michigan have barred state-level environmental agencies from enforcing the standards, while similar measures are pending in Virginia and three additional states. 

Around the country, these EPA expectations are predicted to have major impacts. About 10 percent of all U.S. households burn wood as their primary source of heat, and amid the recent financial crisis and shifting prices of other sources, the amount of citizens relying on it as a primary heating source rose by nearly one-third in the last seven years. Users say that wood is efficient, burns for long periods of time and new wood stoves often come with combusters, which burn wood more completely and save money and work.

Concern among both consumers and manufacturers
While there's plenty of potential danger with wood stoves in some locations and the potential of new and more efficient wood stoves is bright, many people are still concerned about the new standards. Both manufacturers and consumers are worried that their current approaches will be seen as wasteful or less viable, and as such are turning away from the EPA's suggestions and expectations.

The EPA itself estimates its future restrictions will reduce fine particle emissions from wood heaters by nearly 70 percent, which could yield a public health benefit equaling $100 for every $1 of additional cost laid on manufacturers. These changes are expected to be the first ones in more than 25 years, and may also include emission mandates on wood-fired furnaces and outdoor boilers. Nine states already required cleaner emissions for these products even before the EPA's actions, making the controversy even more notable.

Many of the largest manufacturers in the industry find that their products meet the initial EPA requirements but could experience issues with the later phased-in rules. Some smaller companies may simply close down instead of adapting to the changes. Honeycutt, one company that sells up to 70,000 items per year, noted that it has already tried to diversify its portfolio with additional products.

Rules contentious
While there are concerns about the viability of these rules, many environmental leaders believe they're strong. Brennan Howell, the director of clean energy and climate campaigns for the Ohio Environmental Council, told the Columbus Dispatch that the new rules are a "no-brainer." 

Others find the concern a more political argument. One citizen told the Dispatch that the rules are unfair toward smaller manufacturers and don't take the reality of the argument into account. Instead, the EPA should focus on larger polluters, like cars and trucks.

"They're picking on the little guys, really," he told the news source.

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