BY SAM COOPER REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Fueled by angry homeowners who say the devices smoke out entire neighborhoods for days on end, the state Committee on the Environment held a public hearing Monday on a bill calling for a 6-month hiatus on using the furnaces between April 15 and Oct. 15. Some furnace owners use the devices during summer months to heat water. The bill would also add wood smoke to the public health code as a public nuisance.
The proposal has been followed closely by the state Farm Bureau Association, Executive Director Steve Reviczky said. Even though the bill has an exemption for agricultural purposes, he spoke in opposition to the measure during Monday’s hearing.
"The harvesting of timber is an agricultural activity, and the byproduct of harvesting timber is firewood," he said, in a telephone interview afterward. "There are many farms that utilize wood burning and outdoor furnaces for their production, to heat greenhouses, make maple syrup, or to burn wood to create hot water."
Current regulations, which require a furnace be set back 200 feet from the nearest home not served by the unit and regulate the height of the smoke stack, are sufficient, he said. In addition, adding wood smoke to the list of public nuisances would be a mistake, he said.
"It wouldn’t matter if it was coming from a chimney, fireplace, wood stove or your barbecue in the backyard," Reviczky said. "The public health code covers stuff like sewage, rotting meat, piles of manure, stagnant water, outhouses — and they want to add wood smoke to that list."
Rep. Bryan Hurlburt, D-Tolland, one of two vice chairmen on the committee, said the bill is a "one size fits all" approach to regulating a few particularly smokey furnaces.
Regulations already give the state Department of Environmental Protection authority to issue citations to furnace owners who pollute their neighborhoods, with fines up to $100 per day, he said.
Nancy Alderman, president of North Haven-based Environment and Human Health, Inc., which along with the American Lung Association has called for a complete ban on outdoor wood-burning furnaces, said the proposal doesn’t go far enough.
To read the complete story see Tuesday’s Republican-American or our electronic edition at http://republicanamerican.ct.newsmemory.com.
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