|A certification test using ASTM E3053|
where logs are loaded north-south on
the bottom and east-west on top.
The Attorney Generals said “certifications relying on [ASTM 3053] Alternative test methods 125 and 127 suffer from deficiencies that artificially lower emissions during the certification tests and allow too much variability and manufacturer or laboratory manipulation to provide a result sufficient to determine compliance with the Standard.” The letter is reproduced below and can be downloaded here.
The NESCAUM report that identified deficiencies in test reports that used ASTM E3053 also found significant deficiencies in test reports of stoves that used Method 5G, the official federal reference method for wood stove emission testing. That report led to an announcement by the EPA in early April that they were overhauling their process of reviewing certification paperwork, but it did not address NESCAUM’s recommendation that the ASTM method be revoked.
|Both the ASTM and IDC cord wood|
test methods have been accepted as
"broadly applicable" which means any
manufacturer can use them for
certification testing. No stove has yet
been certified with the IDC method.
At issue is what has become the favored test method by manufacturers and labs. Eighty-five out of 148 cordwood stoves, nearly 60%, of all wood stoves on the market today used the ASTM test, one indication that the test may be easier than Method 28, the traditional test. Among the close-knit community of stove manufacturers and test labs, there are few explanations of why labs shifted so quickly to use the ASTM test method.
This controversy, like virtually all others around wood stoves in recent years, have to do with heaters that burn wood, not pellets. Unfortunately, reports, rejoinders and media coverage rarely make that distinction, resulting in a loss of confidence in all types of heaters. Pellet stoves remain fundamentally far cleaner than wood stoves in the hands of consumers and their test methods are far less susceptible to interpretation and manipulation.
On June 6, the EPA posted the NYSERDA IDC testing protocol. They say: "We have now docketed the TEOM SOP, and IDC Stove Operating and Fueling protocols, along with their associated spreadsheets (fueling calculator for IDC, data processing for TEOM). These files are static for the duration of our sample collection efforts that have now begun in Portland, OR." This process too has been exclusionary. The Alliance for Green Heat requested on multiple occasions to join the Roundtable group made up of scores of industry members, state regulators and EPA personnel, but the EPA declined to allow non-industry stakeholders to be part of this process.
Industry experts affiliated with the main industry association, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), take pride in what they call an open, transparent and consensus-driven process of developing and approving the ASTM E3053 cordwood test method. Its detractors, led by NESCAUM and the New York State Energy and Development Authority (NYSERDA), say ASTM is a private non-profit that copyrights and sells its standards. They also contend that even though anyone can join the committee developing an ASTM standard, the process can be dominated by industry, and comments and recommendations can be discarded if the core committee members do not agree with them.
|Lisa Rector explains the IDC test when |
it was first publicly showcased at a
Wood Stove Design Challenge in 2018.
NYSERDA has been funding NESCAUM to develop their own cordwood test method, which was recently approved by the EPA as a broadly applicable method, at the request of the State of Alaska. Industry members say NESCAUM and NYSERDA have a clear conflict of interest and are trying to get rid of the competition so that their cordwood test method can be the only one used by test labs. Industry is also frustrated with the lack of transparency surrounding the development of the IDC test method and the errors in it that would have been found if other experts could have reviewed it and tested it. Tom Morrissey, owner of Woodstock Soapstone found scores of errors in the NESCAUM report and identified many problematic issues with the IDC test method. Ben Myren, a veteran test lab owner, also found many problems with the process run by NESCAUM and the state of Alaska.
|An EPA reevaluation of finding|
in the NESCAUM report
should include rejoinders
from manufacturers, such as
whether this fuel was correctly
flagged for debarking
It is not yet known whether the demands of the nine states could lead to the revocation of the certification of 85 stoves that were certified with the ASTM method, or whether the EPA would just not allow it to be used to certify additional stoves. Most of those 85 stoves will be requesting to have their 5 year certification approval extended for another 5 years. The EPA may require that those stoves go through emissions testing again after 5 years, an option that they appear to have been considering even before the letter from the Attorney Generals based on deficiencies flagged by the Alaska review process.
The nine Attorney Generals represent the states of New York, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Absent from this list are Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut who are members of NESCAUM and prominently listed at the beginning of the NESCAUM report.
Copy of letter:
Attorneys General of New York, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
May 21, 2021
Director, Air Quality Assessment Division
US EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Mail Drop E-143-02 Research Triangle Park, NC 22710
Re: Request that EPA Revoke Use of Alternative Test Methods 125 and 127 for New Source Performance Standard Wood Heaters Certification
Dear Chet Wayland,
On behalf of the Attorneys General of New York, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, we write to request that EPA revoke alternative test methods 125 and 127, both based on ASTM 3053, to certify compliance with the New Source Performance Standard (the Standard) for wood heaters. These alternative test methods threaten to undermine the air quality benefits of the Standard.
As outlined in an April 28, 2021 letter from multiple state regulators to EPA, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management have together undertaken a comprehensive review and audit of wood heaters certified under test methods relying on ASTM 3053. These entities found that certifications relying on those alternative test methods suffer from deficiencies that artificially lower emissions during the certification tests. Alternative test methods 125 and 127 allow too much variability and manufacturer or laboratory manipulation to provide a result sufficient to determine compliance with the Standard. In light of these findings, we request that EPA reevaluate the authorizations for alternative test methods 125 and 127, and if EPA corroborates the reports’ findings, revoke these alternative test methods. See 40 CFR §§ 60.8(b), 60.534(a)(1)(ii) (specifying authority to authorize alternative test methods); see also 40 CFR § 60.533(l)(1) (allowing revocation of certifications for wood heater models where test results cannot be replicated).
States continue to invest considerable resources to facilitate the exchange of older, more- polluting wood heaters for newer less-polluting units. Wood heater certifications based on deficient test methods, which produce artificially lower emissions than what can be achieved by homeowners, undermines these efforts. Furthermore, wood heaters with high particulate matter emissions pose dangers to the health of our residents, including vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and environmental justice communities. EPA can mitigate these problems by requiring the use of either EPA’s method 28R or alternative test method 140 (the Integrated Duty Cycle Test Method that EPA has indicated represents the future of certification test methods for wood heaters).
Last year, numerous States submitted an amicus brief supporting EPA’s authority to conduct auditing of wood heater certifications. See States’ Amicus Brief, Hearth Patio & Barbecue Ass’n v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 15-1056 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 21, 2020), ECF No. 1862523. In that amicus brief, we argued that manufacturers could effectively evade the Standard, and thus contribute to harmful air pollution, by using alternative test methods based on ASTM 3053 for test certifications and running tests more loosely than permitted by method 28R. For example, these methods do not require the use of fuel logs that are 5/6 the length of the firebox, and using shorter logs allows for cleaner burns. What is more, gaming the tests leads to results that cannot be replicated.
We now ask that EPA take the additional step of reviewing the reports and information brought forward by air regulators and other parties and to reassess using alternative test methods 125 and 127. If EPA findings corroborate the state air regulator’s reports—including that stoves certified under alternative test methods 125 and 127 do not reliably produce emissions below the Standard—then EPA should disallow the use of these methods. Moreover, when the certifications for wood heater models that used alternative test method 125 or 127 are up for renewal, EPA should require recertification testing using method 28R or alternative test method 140. See 40 CFR § 60.533(h)(2) (indicating certifications expire every five years).
Thank you for your attention to addressing this troubling threat to the air quality protections afforded by the Standard.
FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: /s/ Nicholas C. Buttino NICHOLAS C. BUTTINO MICHAEL J. MYERS
Assistant Attorneys General Environmental Protection Bureau The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Tel: (518) 776-2406 email@example.com
FOR THE STATE OF ALASKA
TREG R. TAYLOR Attorney General
By: /s/ Steve E. Mulder
STEVE E. MULDER
Chief Assistant Attorney General 1031 West Fourth Avenue, Suite 200 Anchorage, AK 99501
Tel: (907) 269-5100
Fax: (907) 276-3697 firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR THE STATE OF MARYLAND
BRIAN E. FROSH
Attorney General of Maryland
By: /s/ Michael Strande MICHAEL STRANDE Assistant Attorney General Department of the Environment 200 Saint Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
Tel: (410) 576-6300 email@example.com
FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Attorney General of Massachusetts
By: /s/ Carol Iancu
TURNER SMITH, Deputy Chief Assistant Attorneys General Office of the Attorney General Environmental Protection Division One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor Boston, MA 02108
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FOR THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
GURBIR S. GREWAL Attorney General
By: /s/ Lisa J. Morelli LISA J. MORELLI
Deputy Attorney General New Jersey Division of Law 25 Market Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Tel: (609) 376-2745 Lisa.Morelli@law.njoag.gov
FOR THE STATE OF OREGON
ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM Attorney General
By: /s/ Paul Garrahan
PAUL GARRAHAN Attorney-in-Charge
Special Assistant Attorney General Natural Resources Section
Oregon Department of Justice 1162 Court Street NE
Salem, OR 97301-4096
Tel: (503) 947-4593 Paul.Garrahan@doj.state.or.us Steve.Novick@doj.state.or.us
FOR THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
PETER F. NERONHA
Attorney General of Rhode Island
By: /s/ Alison B. Hoffman
ALISON B. HOFFMAN
Special Assistant Attorney General
Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General 150 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
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FOR THE STATE OF VERMONT
THOMAS J. DONOVAN, JR. Attorney General
By: /s/ Nicholas F. Persampieri NICHOLAS F. PERSAMPIERI Assistant Attorney General Office of the Attorney General 109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609
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FOR THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
ROBERT W. FERGUSON Attorney General
By: /s/ Caroline E. Cress CAROLINE E. CRESS Assistant Attorney General Office of the Attorney General P.O. Box 40117
Olympia, WA 98504-0117 Tel: (360) 586-4613 email@example.com
FOR THE PUGET SOUND CLEAN AIR AGENCY
By: /s/ Jennifer A. Dold JENNIFER A. DOLD
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency 1904 Third Avenue, Suite 105 Seattle, WA 98101
Tel: (206) 689-4015