EPA opens comment period on residential wood heater proposal

By Erin Voegele | February 03, 2014

On Feb. 3, the U.S. EPA published its proposed rule to establish performance standards for new residential wood heaters, new residential hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces and new residential masonry heaters in the Federal Register, officially opening a 91-day public comment period. Comments are due May 5. The EPA originally released the proposal on Jan. 3.

The proposed rule aims to update emissions standards for new wood stoves and establish federal air standards for new wood heaters, including outdoor and indoor wood-fired boilers, known as hydronic heaters. According to the EPA, the proposal would not affect existing woodstoves or other wood-burning heaters currently in use in residential applications.

The proposal sets emissions limits on particulate matter (PM) for new adjustable-rate woodstoves, pellet stoves, wood-fired hydronic heaters, forced-air furnaces, masonry wood heaters, and previously unregulated single burn-rate woodstoves. According to the EPA, the proposed limits are also expected to reduce emission of other pollutants found in wood smoke.

In the rulemaking the EPA proposes to phase in the new standards over a five-year period via two-step progress. However, the agency is also asking for comments on an alternative plan to phase in the limits using a three-step period spanning eight years.

A public hearing is scheduled to be held Feb. 26 at the EPA’s New England Regional Office in Boston. The EPA has indicated that those who wish to present oral testimony should register by Feb. 19. Additional information on the hearing and registration process is available on the EPA websiteAccording to the EPA, the hearing schedule, including a list of speakers, will be posted on the agency’s Controlling Air Pollution from Residential Wood Heaters webpage prior to the hearing.

The proposed rule and information on how to submit a public comment is available in the Federal Register.  Comments can be filed on Regulations.gov under Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0734.