Along with proposed regulations, the EPA published 367 documents that are now available for public review and scrutiny. Many are available to the public for the first time. Many of the documents are long, substantive studies, test data and formal presentations to the EPA by various stakeholders. But other documents are email threads that the EPA considered significant.
The trove of documents can be found here at Regulations.gov. Regulations.gov serves as EPA’s electronic public docket and on-line comment system.
The documents range span two decades of research, reports and studies about wood heat emissions, health impacts, testing issues and regulatory issues. Included are all substantive correspondence between states, air quality agencies, industry and others. Lawyers will be sifting through the documents to see whether the EPA has a “reasonable basis” to propose the emission limits and other requirements that it chose.
The documents also bring to light major controversies within the hearth community regarding the NSPS. Besides the issues surrounding test methods for outdoor boilers, documents show that non-catalytic stove manufacturers engaged in a concerted effort to discredit catalytic stoves. A group of manufacturers paid for a firm to conduct a study that showed catalytic stoves work well in the laboratory, but not in the hands of consumers who don’t operate them correctly. They concluded that catalytic stoves should be held to a 2.5 g/hr standard and non-cat stoves held only to a 4.5 g/hr.
This internecine battle, and maybe others, could undermine the ability of the HPBA to present a unified voice to EPA and is likely to be raised during the February 26 public hearing in Boston.
This is also the site where the public can see the comments made since the regulations were posted on the Federal Register on Monday, February 5. As of Tuesday, February 27, 153 comments have been posted, many of which are anonymous, short, impassioned statements telling the EPA that the regulations are unnecessary or counterproductive. Some are from manufacturers and others that address the details and implications of various aspects of the proposed rule.