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The EPA: Among the most feared three-letters in the alphabet

The EPA: Among the most feared three-letters in the alphabet

Mitch Coffman
August 22, 2014
August 22, 2014

The latest target for the EPA, according to a story from north Idaho, is the wood and pellet stove.

Wood stoves currently must not emit more than 7.5 grams per hour of particulate emissions. In February the EPA could decide to move that number down to 4.5 grams, to be followed by a requirement that the standard be 1.3 grams by 2020. Expressed differently, in 2015 new stoves could be forced to reduce their emissions by 60 percent, then a few years later by another 29 percent.

Arguing against cleaner air is akin to being against baseball and hotdogs.

But, here is one of the rubs. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo says the EPA has not provided scientific validation for changing the emission standards.

Here comes another rub. Most stoves are produced by large manufacturers who can absorb the added cost of making a cleaner-burning stove. The little guy, and there are some in Idaho, will struggle with the $350,000 price of a new design plus he may be priced out of the market because he will have to charge proportionately more for his stove than the big guy.

And there’s this: If the new standards are adopted, it could very well mean that the households using the new stoves would have to burn more wood or pellets to generate the same amount of heat as the older stoves. Thus, more particulates in the air.

But the ultimate Catch-22 is the reality that the EPA can pretty much do what it wants under the guidelines of the Clean Air Act. It is charged with reducing air pollution to a certain level and that’s that.

So, says the smaller stove manufacturers, the best they can realistically hope for is compromise with the EPA and come up with something less Draconian than a 60 percent change in the standards followed by another 29 percent drop just a few years later.

Such is the state of affairs with government today: Hope that some agency is “kind enough” not to put you out of business. How is that going with the IRS?

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