Tuesday, December 4, 2012

National Forum Debates Options for the NSPS

Alliance for Green Heat, December 4, 2012 -Six months ago, the EPA’s new proposed standards for wood heating appliances seemed almost complete. Today they may be more up in the air than ever. After a 3 to 4 year process, how could this have happened?

The main driver behind major new proposed changes to the NSPS are state and regional air quality agencies that felt the EPA’s proposed NSPS was too weak and merely codified the status quo. In the face of growing discontent amongst states, HPBA mobilized a “road show” to personally visit key states and make the case for a more cautious NSPS. Many of the states who saw this presentation did not feel the data that they had seen supported the HPBA position. And on November 8 and 9, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the Western States Air Resources Council (WESTAR) organized a stakeholders meeting in Minneapolis with LADCO, CENSARA and MARAMA. The regional organizations and key states had come up with new options for EPA to consider in its proposal and had conveyed them to the EPA and HPBA prior to the meeting. While HPBA agreed with some of them, they appeared to taken aback by others, and were maybe for the first time in the NSPS process, put on the defensive.

The Alliance for Green Heat had not been privy to the meetings and proposals of the air agencies prior to Minneapolis, but agreed with much of it. The Alliance believes wood appliances need to be cleaner and more efficient to position them to play a major role as a residential renewable energy technology. Unlike in Europe, in America wood stoves tend to be dealt with by air agencies just as something to be regulated, not promoted. Absent from the discussion in Minneapolis was any of the urgency that is common in Europe to aggressively promote the cleanest appliances as a way to fight global climate change.

In Minneapolis, states proposed establishing 3 bins, with the strictest one as an alternative compliance standard that the cleanest and most efficient stoves would be in. That category of stoves could be used by incentive or change-out programs if the implementing agency wanted to only make the cleanest and most efficient stoves eligible. The Alliances strongly supports this part of the proposals from the air quality agencies and urges the EPA to include this in their proposed regulation. (For a related story about a similar programin France, click here.)

Attending the meeting from the EPA: Greg Green, Gil Wood, John Dupree and several others. From HPBA: Jack Goldman, David Menotti, John Crouch and Bob Ferguson. From industry, representatives from Blaze King, Intertek Test Lab, Woodstock Soapstone, Central Boiler and a number of others. From non-profits: the Alliance for Green Heat, the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Fund and others.

Gil Wood of the EPA said they expected to send the proposed NSPS to the OMB by the end of January and expected the 90-day public comment period to come in the spring.

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