There has been a lot of hype in the media about the pending EPA legislation to regulate wood stoves, and much of it is based on misinformation. To hear the story told by the news, you would think that the sky is falling, or that sinister forces are at work. The truth tells a far different story.
The first thing to understand is that existing stoves will be grandfathered in. These new regulations will not affect any stove in use or for sale today. No one will be forced to replace their stove.
For the Firewood Industry, the most important takeaway is that this sort of regulation is necessary to ensure that firewood remains a viable heating fuel resource. There simply is no defensible argument for stoves that release undue amounts of visible pollution into the atmosphere. Smoky, dirty wood stoves give the practice of burning wood a black eye.
While there are plenty of valid concerns and criticisms regarding details of the legislation, overall these standards are nearly 20 years overdue. The EPA was supposed to have enacted these rules in 1996, so stove manufacturers have had plenty of time to anticipate the requirements of wood stove design in the 21st century, and many have. One out of five stoves on the market today will meet the standards expected to go into effect around 2020.
It’s also important to understand that reduced emissions go hand-in-hand with increased efficiency, meaning a long-term savings in the amount of firewood needed to heat a home.
The NFA does have concerns regarding the methods used in testing and how they relate to real-world scenarios, but we’re hoping the EPA is on the right track and can work this out with the industry. That being said, we’d like to see more financial support for wood stove changeout programs similar to the cash for clunkers program, where there would be an incentive for people to replace their stoves today. Many local efforts around the country have been very successful in improving air quality with changeout programs.
We would also like to see more emphasis on educating consumers on best practices for burning wood, from using a moisture meter to burning in full cycles rather than constantly stoking a fire.