EPA eyes new wood burning restrictions, a fuel used by 14 percent of St. Lawrence County homes
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 9:03 am

Burning wood, a prime heating source in St. Lawrence County, could face restrictions in coming years with proposed new pollution regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

New York’s attorney general says he is pleased by the proposed new rules announced Friday by the U.S. EPA, which would limit pollution from residential wood-burning heaters of several types.

“Today, for the first time in 25 years, EPA proposed to strengthen air pollution standards for new residential wood heaters,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had filed a lawsuit with six other states against the EPA for failing to uphold the Clean Air Act in regard to wood heaters.

The latest data from the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey show that St. Lawrence County households heat much more with wood than the average county in New York State.

In St. Lawrence County, according to the Census report, 14% of housing units are heated with wood. Only 2% of units across the state are heated this way.

The EPA proposes to limit emissions from residential wood-heating devices made after 2015, saying they hoped to combat pollutants that constitute a health hazard, according to a report on WashingtonPost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/epa-moves-to-regul...).

“I commend EPA for taking this long overdue action. My office is looking forward to reviewing EPA’s proposed standards for new residential wood heaters and will continue to work with EPA and the other states to ensure that the standards better safeguard public health,” Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman's coalition contends the EPA's existing emissions limits, which haven't been revised in 25 years, are outdated and leave out popular types of residential wood heaters -- including outdoor wood boilers, which have proliferated in many areas of New York, and have become increasingly popular in St. Lawrence County as heating fuel prices have risen in recent years.