Friday, December 12, 2014

Billy Long: Keep the EPA away from wood-burning stoves

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

With the cold of winter settling in, many people in Southwest Missouri turn to wood stoves to heat their homes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeting wood burning stoves with a regulation that lacks commonsense and threatens jobs.

The EPA’s New Source Performance Standards proposal affecting wood stoves takes a harsh, “technology forcing approach” which will eventually render 85 percent of wood burning stoves sold in the U.S. illegal. The EPA expects to finalize this new rule in February 2015.

In April, I questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on this proposal and expressed my frustration with how impractical the proposal is, especially for folks in Southwest Missouri. Southwest Missourians turn to burning wood to heat their homes because wood is readily available, often cheap, and reliable.

I support the Wood Stove Regulatory Relief Act that prohibits the EPA from implementing or enforcing any new standards for an eight year period as they relate to wood burning stoves.

This latest proposal from the EPA has the potential to cause job losses in the manufacturing sector. Last month, I signed on to a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Administrator McCarthy requesting a longer compliance timeline for their New Source Performance Standards for warm air furnaces. Warm air furnaces are forced-air, wood-fired furnaces Americans are using to heat their homes. The EPA’s proposed rule would prohibit the manufacture or sale of any non-certified warm air furnace within 60 days of the final rule being published in the Federal Register. Manufacturers would have 60 days to completely change their operations when it comes to producing warm air furnaces. At the same time, because the rule prohibits the sale of non-certified models, manufacturers may have to re-purchase the stock that retail stores have already purchased. These manufacturers are often small companies; for many of them the rule will create an insurmountable financial burden, forcing many out of business. This would be needless and when EPA first regulated wood stoves in the 1980’s, it allowed a longer compliance timeline that helped the industry adjust. In the letter, we asked for at least a year for manufacturers to be compliant with this rule.

The EPA should not make it harder for families to heat their homes with wood stoves and ban the production of America’s current wood burning stoves. The EPA needs to bring common sense to its proposals. Taking away a heating source folks in Southwest Missouri use and threatening jobs makes no sense at all.

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