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Draconian EPA Wood Stove Law Hits Rural North Idaho

In August of 2014 the EPA gave Idaho notice that it will have to meet stricter new air quality standards by the end of 2021. Now, North Idaho’s Silver Valley is being targeted with an EPA grant to regulate wood stove use.

“At night, everybody wants to kind of load up their stove with as much wood as will fit in it and then they turn down the damper,” Idaho regional air quality manager Mark Boyle was quoted in an article by “They kind of starve it for oxygen over the night so it really just smolders all night long. Well, what that does is it really produces a lot of smoke coming out of the chimney.”

Obviously, when people are lucky enough to have a wood stove that holds a fire all night, they try to keep winter’s chill off by banking the stove, so they don’t have to get up in the night and stoke the fire. Moreover, less heat is needed when people are tucked into bed, so stoves are turned down. You don’t want the fire to go out completely and have to freeze your buns off getting it started up again in the morning.

EPA Says: Change Your Ways And Do What We Say

Boyle said Silver Valley residents “may be asked to change their habits and avoid burning during high-pollution days.” That translates directly to more money paid to the power company in an economically depressed area, and less to spend on food and other necessities.

There are good reasons for burning wood where it’s readily available. People can acquire it themselves and they can sell some for extra money. When the power goes out, a basic wood stove that doesn’t require electricity to run efficiently, is a multiple blessing that supplies warmth, hot water, and heat to cook meals. Wood heat gives people some autonomy, especially where wood stoves are still relatively cheap, which is not the case with the newfangled models.

Turn In Wood Stoves To Be Melted Down

Given the desirability of using wood for heat, it’s a good thing when affordable stoves are available to all who need them. Used wood stoves that cost under $200 can still be purchased around the Inland Northwest, except in Washington state, which led the anti wood stove charge in the 90s, by passing a law against buying, selling, giving away, bartering, or otherwise exchanging a used wood stove. Moreover, collection centers were set up for people to drop off their offending appliances so they could be melted down.

The EPA believes more than nine million wood stoves still need to be rounded up and melted down! Has anybody calculated the carbon footprint of that strategy? Is there an audit of the environmental impact of bringing all those stoves to market in the first place? How much energy did it take to mine the ore, smelt the metals, manufacture the stoves and distribute them? How much will it take to destroy them and make something new from the molten metal, then distribute that? You’d think the honorable thing to do would be to get as much use out of the old stoves as possible before they rust back into the ground.

Since industry spews a mind-boggling magnitude of pollutants into the air, why not hound the big guys rather than taking perfectly working wood stoves from rural people of modest means struggling to keep warm on the financial edge? Buying a new stove or getting a ticket for offending smoke are obviously not at the top of the budget priority list.

The Government Is Here to Help You Get Another Wood Stove

Have no fear, the government is here to help. Part of the plan is to “look at ways to help people trade in their old wood stoves for newer, more efficient, (and more expensive) models,” according to the NW Newsnetwork article.

It looks like Idaho is the next victim of EPAs big plans to get the offending wood stoves “off-line” and force citizens to buy newer, more efficient models.

Communities in California, Nevada, and Oregon require the removal and destruction of old wood stoves upon the sale of homes. In Oregon, you’re allowed to keep your old stove as long as you don’t sell your house, and you can’t legally move it from its original spot. Your building inspector servants are expected to help enforce that law.

Enter the Smoke Police

Lincoln County, Montana, helped families afford the new thousand-dollar EPA certified stoves with a voluntary program that provided a cash incentive to “change out” their old stoves. But those who rejected the government’s bribery were out of luck because shortly thereafter, the county’s next move was to declare all non-certified stoves illegal. Then they required everyone who burns wood to get a permit from the health department. This loosed the smoke police upon citizens, who drive around and look for thick smoke, knock on doors, demand to see permits and issue tickets.

The Bottom Line: Lien Your Home To Buy More Expensive Stoves

“Property owners in Pendleton, Oregon, were offered the option of upgrading to EPA approved stoves with interest-free loans that trigger a lien on their homes.

A few agencies provide new stoves in conjunction with charitable weatherization programs for the poor. But what do poor people do when they’re hanging on by a thread in areas that don’t offer such programs? And what about those who would rather work hard to stay warm without government assistance? They either have to give in to yet another insult from the Powers that Be. Either that, or they will have to hold their government representatives feet to the fire, or migrate to a more lenient jurisdiction where brave leaders refuse to sell, barter, give away, or otherwise exchange the people’s liberties for carrots in the form of grants, offered from above.

It’s all ridiculous anyway. Despite what EPA says, burning wood is an environmentally friendly way to stay warm. According to an article on the appropriate technology website, Journey to Forever, wood is a renewable resource, and burning it is much more eco-friendly than natural gas or kerosene. Natural gas emits 15 times more carbon dioxide per kilogram than wood and kerosene nearly ten times as much. The amount of CO2 emissions from home fires burning can recycle back into growing more trees. Nevertheless, Washington’s Department of Ecology promotes natural gas heat over wood, saying it pollutes less. So, who is correct? It doesn’t matter. You just have to obey whatever they say or pay the fine.

One comment on “Draconian EPA Wood Stove Law Hits Rural North Idaho

  1. quercuscommunity
    October 31, 2015

    I can’t help thinking there are bigger threats to the environment than wood- burning stoves!

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on October 31, 2015 by in Current Events & Signs of the Times and tagged , , , .
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