Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Use an EPA-certified wood stove, get a little break on new rules

The local air board is planning to soften new restrictions that could stop wood-burning in fireplaces most of the winter in Fresno and Bakersfield.

Wood-burning will be allowed on some no-burn days, leaders said Thursday. But an EPA-certified wood-burning device, such as a stove or heater, would have to be used.

The district will hold public hearings to determine the threshold.

Starting in 2014, the new burn bans will be triggered when soot and other debris reaches 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Right now, the threshold is 30.

The exemption level for people using EPA-certified devices will probably be 30 to 35, I’m told.

On an even more technical note, the new restrictions are part of the district’s plan that will be sent to state and federal authorities. But the pollution reductions won’t be claimed until the winter of 2016-2017 in the plan — a matter of bookkeeping on the way to the 2019 attainment date.

The district board moved the restrictions up two years to get the health benefits early.




8TM says:

So on a day at or near the daily exceedance standard for PM 2.5, the Air District is going to tell a homeowner who already has a choice between natural gas heating and an EPA certified stove that emits hundreds of times more PM 2.5 per hour than his or her natural gas furnace, that it’s OK to use the dirtier device? Does this make sense?

For every 1 gram of particulates put into the air by a natural-gas furnace, a pellet stove emits 100 grams, a certified wood stove emits 400-500 grams. To encourage anyone to invest in a new wood-burning device in an area already so hard-pressed to meet air-quality standards is foolishly irresponsible.

And has the Air District Board considered that a policy of allowing residential use of pellet or EPA certified wood stoves on days forecast to exceed 20 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter would not simply encourage the change-out of an older, dirtier device, it would also encourage the installation and use of such devices in homes that do not have them at present?

The $500 to $1500 offered by the Air District to switch from an older wood-stove to a natural-gas stove does make sense. In practice, I can’t see why a homeowner would forgo the subsidy obtained for a gas heater that they can use every day in favor of a wood-fueled stove the use of which may well be prohibited. And for the businesses that sell these stoves for whom this proposed allowance is meant to be friendly, don’t they profit as much selling a natural-gas insert as a pellet or wood-stove?

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