Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Orlando, NSPS and the future of wood burning in America

With the national wood and pellet stove trade expo in Orlando fast approaching, the buzz about the EPA's review of New Source Performance Standards is growing louder. As EPA prepares to sit down with hundreds of attendees in Orlando, some prominent voices say that EPA could make solid fuel products obsolete and put hearth stores out of the solid fuel business.

Others welcome the move as a long overdue step to help cleaning up a widespread winter public health problem in thousands of towns around the country. But in between these extremes are scores of thoughtful and important voices, including many leaders of the wood and pellet stove industry. The December issue of Hearth & Home magazine (dedicated 10 pages of excellent coverage of the issue and interviewed many industry leaders. Brad Determan, President of America's largest manufacturer of wood and pellet spoke positively about the NSPS process and said, "there's no question that the first NSPS was good for the industry." Craig Shankster, President of Moresö US, said, "I welcome it [the new NSPS], to be honest. I think it's needed."

Another thoughtful voice is John Gulland, who has run the Canadian non-profit educational group, the Woodheat Organization, for years. He argues that overly strict emissions standards in the 2 - 3 gram area could result in many manufacturers going back to catalytic models which could be counterproductive because so many users do not replace their catalysts often enough. And, he cautions against over emphasizing laboratory emissions testing at the expense of other strategies to reduce wood smoke. Click here to read this article.

The NSPS process addresses scores of complex issues, of which emissions are only one. At this early stage of the process, the Alliance for Green Heat takes these positions:

1. National emissions standards for wood stoves should be well under the current Washington state 4.5 standard. Washington State showed Washington DC more than 10 years ago that 4.5 grams an hour was achievable and the new standards need to be relevant for 10 more years.
2. Wood and pellet stoves should be third party tested for efficiency and required to clearly put both efficiency and emissions numbers on the back of the stove. In the renewable energy revolution, stoves need to be more of a mainstream appliance, and that means disclosing efficiency and emissions numbers.
3. The government should subsidize the initial phase of third party testing for emissions and efficiency when the new standards come into play. If wood and pellet heating appliances got even 1% of the R & D funds going into biofuels and other renewable energy sources, the US could the world leader in manufacturing clean, high efficiency wood heat appliances.

For more information on the HPBExpo in Orlando: http://www.hpbexpo.com/.

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