The state Senate has unanimously passed legislation by North Country Sen. Darrel Aubertine that calls for allowing the continued use of outdoor wood boilers in spite of proposed Department of Environmental Conservation regulations that would severely restrict their use.
The Senate bill, if approved by the Assembly and the governor, and would permit local governments to add restrictions.
The bill that would allow for the continued use of outdoor boilers currently in operation, require any new boilers sold in New York to be approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and allow for local decision-making with respect to zoning issues such as setbacks and chimney heights.
Aubertine noted that there has been a groundswell of support for this bill. “Albany heard the message from rural New York loud and clear. The Senate unanimously supported this legislation, so I think that should tell the DEC that they need to go back to the drawing board.”
Aubertine, chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources and sponsor of the bill, said he felt a "responsibility to ensure that the tens of thousands of households that depend on this relatively clean, affordable heat source can continue to heat their homes."
“The New York State Senate made it very clear that we do not agree with the DEC’s plan to regulate outdoor wood boilers out of use. This bill protects responsible users from runaway regulation while at the same time empowers local governments to craft regulations that best fit the needs of their communities. As a matter of common sense, a one-size-fits-all approach is inappropriate and harmful to rural New York. Towns and villages with a relatively high population density have different environmental and health concerns than more sparsely populated rural communities in Upstate New York, so it makes sense to trust local zoning boards to do the right thing for their communities.”
The senator said he has received resolutions in support of the legislation, including from the St. Lawrence County Legislature, and from municipalities across the state. Additionally, Senator Aubertine has put up a form on his website to allow people to provide the DEC with their thoughts on the regulations and has issued his own comments in opposition to the proposed regulations.
The DEC regulations on outdoor wood boiler (OWBs) would, among other things:
• restrict the use of an OWB from May 15-August 31 in the Northern Heating Zone (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Washington and Warren) and April 15 – September 15 in the rest of the state.
• require replacement of OWBs within 10 years, regardless of their continued usefulness and cost to owners.
• require a minimum stack height of 18 feet, or two feet higher than any structure within 150 feet. This could easily be in excess of 60 feet.
• restrict use within 100 feet of nearest property boundary; for commercial systems 200 feet from property boundary; 300 feet from property boundary with a residence and 1,000 feet from a school.
The Assembly companion bill is still awaiting a final vote.