2010 April 24: IN: Indiana Law Blog: Potential regulation of emissions from wood-fired outdoor boiler continues to "shock and surprise" some legislators
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Environment – Potential regulation of emissions from wood-fired outdoor boiler continues to "shock and surprise" some legislators
The ILB has a very long list of entries on outdoor wood-fired boilers and efforts to regulate them so that the smoke does not harm the immediate neighborhood and the environment as a whole.
This ILB entry from Jan. 7, 2010, summarized the history of IDEM’s regulatory efforts. If you are interested in this topic, I urge you in particular to read it and this ILB Dec. 29, 2005 entry.
Here are some recent news stories on the topic:
- "States get tough on outdoor wood furnace smoke" was the headline to an AP story by Lisa Rathke published April 4, 2010 in the Louisville Courier Journal (and other papers). Some quotes:
MONTPELIER, Vt. — When oil prices climbed, more people turned to wood to heat their homes, many using outdoor wood furnaces that to some are air-polluting nuisances.
From Vermont to Connecticut to Indiana, some neighbors have complained about smoke from these furnaces drifting into their yards and homes, in some cases triggering asthma attacks and lung problems. Several Vermont homeowners said the smoke has even set off smoke alarms in their own homes, and at least two of those affected said they have had to move.
“Wood smoke is not benign but people think it is,” said Philip Etter, environmental analyst with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. “They sort of grew up with it — because it smells nice in sort of a nostalgic sense — and they think it’s fine, but it’s not.”
Residential wood smoke is toxic, with carcinogens and fine particulates that can get deep into lungs and cause lung and cardiovascular problems, he said.
The older furnaces generate at least 20 times more emissions than Environmental Protection Agency-certified wood stoves, and as much particulate matter as 50 to 500 diesel trucks, depending on the truck age and level of control, according to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, a nonprofit association of state air quality agencies in the Northeast.
While the EPA regulates indoor wood stoves, it issues only voluntary guidelines for manufacturers of outdoor wood furnaces, which are also called boilers and hydronic heaters.
Typically the boilers are in sheds with short chimneys and heat water that is circulated through floors or radiators in a nearby residence. Some are used to heat water year-round. * * *
The furnaces cost from $9,000 to $12,000 before installation.
The new models, now the only ones that can be purchased in northern New England, are up to 90 percent cleaner and use up to 50 percent less wood, though they cost about $1,500 more than the older units.
“We feel that manufacturers should come to the table and get these kind of products out on the market because it’s important,” said Rodney Tollefson, vice president of Central Boiler Inc., in Greenbush, Minn.
- "Wood-fired boilers worry EPA: Agency wants statewide rules on types of fuel" is the headline to this March 25, 2010 story in the Columbus Dispatch, reported by Mark Ferenchik. Some quotes:
A lot of Ohioans apparently are burning stuff other than wood in their outdoor wood-fired boilers – tires, paint, garbage, even manure and animal carcasses.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has received complaints from across Ohio of people using their boilers like incinerators, said spokeswoman Linda Oros.
That’s why the agency wants to regulate them like incinerators, requiring operating permits and limiting the amount of pollution they can emit.
Outdoor wood-burning boilers are becoming more popular as people try to cut heating costs. The boilers, often housed in sheds, are used to heat water, as well as homes and businesses.
Oros said she expects few boiler owners to come forward to apply for permits. She expects that the Ohio EPA will investigate complaints and enforce the regulations if owners are burning anything but wood.
Two years ago, the Ohio EPA drafted statewide rules for all outdoor wood-fired boilers. But after a public outcry, state officials said one-size-fits-all rules wouldn’t work and decided to let local communities regulate the boilers. * * *
Columbus has no rules concerning wood-fired boilers and has no plans to create any, said Amanda Ford, a spokeswoman for Columbus Public Health.
Other Ohio communities, such as Fairfield, Madeira, Springdale and Monroe in southwestern Ohio and Garrettsville in northeastern Ohio, have prohibited them.
Last month, the Ohio Environmental Council and American Lung Association asked the Ohio EPA to control emissions from outdoor wood-fired boilers, calling them a health risk. The council said one outdoor boiler can emit as much soot as two diesel trucks or 45cars per hour.
David Celebrezze, director of air and water special projects for the Ohio Environmental Council, said he wants statewide regulations for all wood-fired boilers.
"If you leave it up to communities, you’re going to have this patchwork," he said.
Both groups want the state to require stacks to be at least 5 feet taller than any building within 150 feet, and boilers to be at least 200 feet from adjoining property lines.
They also want the state to prohibit boilers from operating between April 15 and Sept. 13 and to require that they burn wood that has not been painted or stained.
As noted in the earlier ILB entries cited above, Indiana’s IDEM rulemaking on this issue has been in process since 2005, with numerous public hearings, meetings, and opportunities for comment. Normally the rulemaking process takes about one-year. This one is in its fifth year.
Nonetheless, some legislators, who should be following the process (that the legislature itself devised) and keeping their constituents informed, instead continue to be "shocked and surprised" that regulation of wood-fired outdoor boilers is under consideration.
Here is the 2nd Notice and text of the proposed new rule to regulate emissions from outdoor boilers, as published Jan. 6, 2010. It includes a long list of public comments and responses.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 24, 2010 01:35 PM
Posted to Environment