Alaska and 10 other states tells EPA ‘see you in court’ over wood stoves

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The State of Alaska and 10 other states and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency on Friday delivered a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of its failure to enforce wood stove emission standards.

The federal agency is, through its own reckless actions, creating a danger to communities heavily reliant on wood for warmth, the states argue. They want the federal government to live up to the standards it sets for communities.

The communities of Fairbanks and North Pole experience some of the coldest winters in the United States. Many residents heavily depend on wood stoves to keep their homes warm. Atmospheric inversions in the winter cause smoke to settle and the air quality to become severe at times.

The EPA programs that try to get people to trade in older stoves and other wood-burning appliances haven’t necessarily improved air quality, the states argue, because the new stoves don’t meet EPA standards either. Thus, states wonder what the point is in changing out old stoves for new ones.

“If newer wood heaters do not meet cleaner standards, then programs to change out old wood heaters may provide little health benefits at significant public cost,” the states said.

The notice of intent warns the EPA to either address the issues with its nonsensical wood stove certification program or face litigation.

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor highlighted the need to protect people in the Interior.

“On the one hand, the EPA is threatening to disapprove the State’s air quality plan for Fairbanks, yet on the other, EPA ignores its own rules that directly impact air emissions by wood stoves,” Taylor said.

The EPA’s own Office of Inspector General previously released a report that exposed systemic failures in the agency’s administration of its wood stove rules.

“The State’s plan, which the EPA proposes to disapprove, incorporates numerous efforts to decrease the impact of wood smoke on air quality,” explained Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune.

He criticized the EPA’s obsession with elements of the State Implementation Plan that the federal government wants changed, but in such a way that it would offer minimal environmental benefit or impose excessive financial burdens on utility ratepayers. Brune sees the lawsuit as a means for Alaska to ensure that the EPA adheres to the same standards it expects from the state.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been conducting a study of Fairbanks’ winter air over the past four years. The study found that during inversions, smoke is trapped at an altitude of 100 feet. When the inversions occur, an air alert is called, and people living in the “non-attainment area” who do not have a “No Other Adequate Source of Heat (NOASH)” permit must stop using wood-burning or pellet stoves and shift to their other forms of heat that emit less particulates than wood heat.

“These alerts, along with burning dry wood, replacement with better stoves or conversion to less-polluting oil or gas, are probably the reason we have cut peak pollution PM2.5 concentrations in half in the last decade,” the university study reported.

Read more about the Fairbanks Winter Air Study at UAF at this link.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Talk about risking unintended consequences !!!

    The feds would like nothing better than to outlaw all wood stoves.

    If you’re going to poke the bear, sue to get rid of all the bogus regulation in the first place.

    • its not just the feds looking to ban wood, its the city and borough as well. it has nothing to do with safety, its all about control and the free federal dollars that will flow to the communities in compliance that drives the concern. the EPA is way outside of its authority when they enter into our homes and need to be put back into their box.

  2. Burning wood is a basic human right, more so than the right to bear arms.
    If they think people will decide to freeze rather than break a some made up rule to sell stoves, think again. If they want to sell stoves, advertise. Man has burned wood from the very beginning and will do so no matter how many rules are created. The gas companies are really behind this, propane and nature gas but not everyone has access to these or can afford them. Always list specific names in the news so the public knows who to confront.

  3. It’s got nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with control over the serfs.

    The EPA needs to be abolished and the Corp of Engineers needs a major come to Jesus.

  4. Wood stoves and typical fireplaces send a lot of particulates and heat up and out the flue. I’m a worst-case scenario, the house looses more heat than it gains because the burning of wood requires make-up air. This action pulls in cold outside air through any leakage point in the walls, floor, and ceiling of the house, and this is why the bedrooms are cold when the wood stove is blazing.
    A masonry heater, like a Tulikivi, burns the wood cleanly, then burns the fumes again to gain more heat. The heater draws in combustion air from outside that goes directly into the fire chamber, so it’s not sucking air in through the leaks in the walls. The fumes at the chimney contain about 2ppm of particulates.
    After firing the heater for 2-3 hours (at 2000°), the heater radiates for 12-24 hours.
    Masonry heater: Much less wood (1/4 – 1/6th), less particulates (almost none), more comfort. The one con is the cost. The state could focus on making financing affordable.

    • what does it really matter? they regulate industrial sources at 10 PPM now, so why try and regulate the people in the privacy of their homes to 2.5PPM? why regulate private citizens at a higher standard than they do industrial sources? the EPA is outside of their authority and should be put back in their box. tell them to go pound sand……we don’t need their monies.

    • Mark W, that’s all a bit disingenuous. Anytime you have a combustion source, air is needed. Vent outside air to your old wood stove. It’s easy to do and it works well. It ain’t rocket science.

  5. Thanks Suzanne, lots of good information here. PM 2.5 trapped within 100 feet of the ground during inversion? I didn’t know that. Since I only encounter the smog when I come out of the hills into town, it looked like it was caused by traffic, especially those idiots burning heating oil in their pickups. You can often recognize them by the fuel tank in the bed of their truck, since it’s illegal to pump the heating oil into the vehicle’s fuel tank. Plus, it smells like they’re burning coal. Wonder why the EPA and the state don’t require the troopers and police to crack down on this.

    Obviously, there are many pollutants other than PM 2.5. Many places in the US use other methods to measure the air quality. Using PM 2.5 seems to place an inordinate emphasis on wood stoves.

    Was also wondering what action, if any, the state and EPA are taking outside the “non-attainment” zones, especially areas outside the borough. I’m gonna need to see what’s on the state website.

    • The EPA’s narrow focus on PM2.5 is nothing but a distraction from the real issue which is the particulate matter that they intentionally spray out of airplanes, much of which is in nano-particle form. If by some miracle, we could eliminate all the geoengineering that they are doing worldwide, and definitely over the population centers of Alaska, the health benefits would be readily apparent in relatively short order. The earth along with its inhabitants could begin to heal from the onslaught. But the Environmental Protection Agency is not the least bit interested in the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

  6. This is beyond stupid. If you must then have the state regulate it. Better to have the market do it. Lawsuits have a way of focusing businesses. Why do so many run to government? They are not a friend or helpful.

  7. They control your food- Bill Gates,FDA,Chinese owned pork factories in the USA.
    They create a pandemic to bankrupt a thriving economy-( and small businesses get shut down , making mega corporations like Costco , Walmart, etc to thrive.
    They shut down Keystone, as well as many other oil, coal and gas companies. Energy independence no more.
    The teachers unions (Chinese military)want complete control of your children- good little robots, with no independent thoughts.
    They want to deprive young men and women the ability of having children – let’s convince them to butcher themselves and take out their reproductive organs- a country is only as strong as the population size.
    They want to ban GOD, the government doesn’t like competition,or people with strong independent spirits.
    They want your guns- a weak subservient people- powerless against the government.
    They want to ban herbs, and vitamins . Gotta keep us sick and dependent.
    Gas stoves and now wood stoves- anything that makes us independent from the government is something they can’t have.
    They will do anything to break us.

  8. Wake up! The agenda is to remove all flames so the freakin green energy explosive lithium batteries won’t catch fire and burn down the houses. Have any of the bureaucrats pushing this load of crap provided the cost versus benefit analysis? No they have not, because so called green energy is not efficient or effective. When the devastation to the environment and child slave labor is counted along with disposal in landfills because most of the materials CAN NOT be recycled the green energy push would go down in flames. Don’t believe me, go look for the data yourself.

    We need clean energy however solar and wind with the current technology are NOT the correct answer. Oh gee has anyone noticed that China and India are burning more coal. Ask why they aren’t changing to green energy?

  9. We will defend the Liberty that we once took for granted.

    Happy Independence Day everybody!
    ‘https://youtu.be/24NDsxDWB5c

  10. My wood stove is carbon neutral. I only burn wood made from CO2, water, and photosynthesis. CO2 cycle is the cycle of life. Mark W is right about masonry fireplaces. Also incredible are rocket mass heaters. I recommend a book called, “The Woodburner’s Handbook.”

  11. Someone mentioned poking the bear. That’s right. Being a retired fed, why would the so-called enlighted, more moderate RINO’s do such a thing? Please do tell.

    I’m glad that my family lives in Palmer. It blows here… we’re not trapped like those in Squarebanks.

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