Idaho Senator Sees EPA Wood Stove Rules as Bureaucratic Smoke Screen

By Tom Bacon

Idaho senior Senator Mike Crapo was in Rathdrum, Idaho Monday in a campaign to fend off proposed EPA regulations that he fears will spell doom for manufacturers of wood-burning stoves. Crapo met with the owner of Kuma Stoves of Rathdrum, a family-owned business which has been building wood stoves since 1981.

Both Crapo and Kuma President Mark Freeman fear that proposed EPA particle emission limits will jack up the price of new stoves so high that users won't be able to buy new, more efficient models. Freeman sees irony in that scenario. The tighter EPA particulate limits are meant to improve public health, since wood stoves now account for about 13 percent of all soot pollution in the US.

The agency forecasts that for every dollar spent to comply with the new limits, Americans would realize between a hundred and two hundred dollars in health benefits - fewer heart attacks, strokes or asthma attacks, and less CO2, methane and carbon emissions. But Freeman said the changes would cause consumers to hold onto their old stoves, not buy new ones, meaning the air will get dirtier instead of cleaner.

The EPA changes would update fine particulate emission standards that have not been tightened since 1988, requiring no more than 4.5 grams per hour by the end of next year, and possibly down to 1.3 grams per hour in five years. Washington State already limits fine particle emissions in wood smoke to 4.5 grams per hour, and only 2.5 grams in catalytic stoves.

Freeman said he's asking for - as he put it - some fairness in this process and for the EPA to hear the industry's concerns, especially those of a small business like ours, about the cost-benefit ratio of the new emission targets.
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