People right to be heated on stove rules

A wood stove regulation proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency is generating a heated response from rural residents.

Burning wood to heat a home is nothing new — it’s been going on for, oh, thousands of years. Many residents prefer wood because it’s an affordable, available and reliable source of fuel.

The EPA isn’t proposing to ban wood heat (good luck with that if it were) but would pass a strict regulation on stove manufacturers.

“There’s not a stove in the United States that can pass the test right now — this is the death knell of any wood burning,” said Reg Kelly, who owns a stove manufacturing business in Mountain Grove, Mo.

Defenders say current stoves would not be affected. Still, the EPA’s proposal is over-reaching bureaucracy at its best that would add costs to new stoves and fail to address the problem it is supposed to correct.

Regulators fail to take into account wood stoves primarily are used in rural locales where air quality is a different issue than urban areas. It’s comparable to imposing regulations on septic systems because of environmental problems with a city sewer.

Of greater concern is the cost burden will fall disproportionately on low-income households. The proposal does not target suburban homes that use fireplaces for ambiance on winter nights, but families including elderly and children who have one source of heat to fight off the cold.

The escalating price of propane fuel makes wood and alternative heating even more important. There are about 12 million wood stoves in operation in the United States and the number has grown in the past decade.

In remote locations, wood heat could be the only option. Natural gas doesn’t serve rural areas and electric service can prove unreliable. Power outages aren’t so rare even in our cities that residents don’t know the value of a back-up heat source.

Not to be overlooked are the environmental benefits — yes, benefits — of wood burning. Burning downed trees in a home stove clears up waste while cutting down on fossil fuel use.

Missouri is one of the first states to respond to the wood stove rule by proposing legislation to thwart its implementation. It’s a sign this regulation hits close to home and hearth.

— St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press

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