Vote on revised wood boiler regulations put on hold pending more public comment
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 6:16 am

State Sen. Darrel Aubertine's office says the senator has persuaded the state Environmental Board to put off its vote on revised outdoor wood boiler regulations proposed by the DEC and to submit the revised regulations for more public comment.

Just last week the Department of Environmental Conservation said it was forwarding the revised regulations to the board for final approval.

“The public outcry in opposition to these regulations, especially here in Central and Northern New York, has been overwhelming,” Aubertine said.

“The regulations they had proposed were unworkable," Aubertine said. "I’m pleased they have made some changes, rolling back some of the worst provisions. However, the remaining regulations still warrant public comment. This is good news that the DEC has revised the regulations and the environmental board has not approved the regulations moving it to another comment period. I’m grateful to the Farm Bureau and all who have stood strong with me on this important issue.”

The senator urged them to follow rules in the State Administrative Procedures Act, requiring that when a proposed rule making document is “substantially changed” that it be made available for public comment again.

Aubertine says he received word from the Governor’s office today that the Environmental Board will table the OWB rules today to open it up to public comment. The Farm Bureau, the St. Lawrence County Legislature and others across the state have made similar requests.

In June, the Senate unanimously passed legislation introduced by Sen. Aubertine to provide for the continued use of outdoor boilers currently in operation, require any new boilers sold in New York be Environmental Protection Agency approved, and allow for local decision making with respect to zoning issues such as setbacks and chimney heights.

“Residents and small business people of the North Country depend on this alternative energy source for heating and the senator understands the importance of these wood boilers in our rural communities,” said Fred Morrill, St. Lawrence County Legislator, who introduced a resolution calling for a comment period. “We’re grateful that he stands with us and is a strong advocate for all of us. People are so upset about this and were worried we would not have the opportunity to comment on the changes. It’s not right for a regulatory agency to make these rules that are like legislation, when it wasn’t passed by a legislature accountable to the electorate. Without the voice of the Senator to speak to those who have very little interest in our issues, it could have been ignored. They listen to Darrel.”

Aubertine is running to keep his 48th Senate District seat from challenger Patty Ritchie.