HPBA: Wood stove manufacturers need more time to meet EPA regs

By Erin Voegele | September 18, 2018

On Sept. 17, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association issued a statement in support of a bill that aims to push back the effective compliance date of new source performance standards for residential wood heaters, hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces for three years, from May 15, 2020 to May 15, 2023.

The bill addressed by the HPBA, S. 1857, was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., on Sept. 26, 2017. A hearing that addressed the bill was held by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety in November 2017. To date, seven senators have signed on to cosponsor the bill. Companion legislation, H.R. 453, was introduced in the House on Jan. 11, 2017.

The U.S. EPA finalized a rule setting new source performance standards for new residential wood heaters, hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces in February 2015. The standards phase in over a five-year period. For woodstoves, pellet stoves and hydronic heaters, the rule is being phased in in two steps, with the first set of requirements in effect May 15, 2015 and the second limit taking effect in 2020. For wood-fired forced air furnaces, the final rule required wood practice standards beginning on the effective date of the rule, with emissions limits phased in in two steps between 2016/2017 and 2020, to give manufacturers the time they need to develop cleaner models and conduct emissions testing. Small forced air furnaces were required to meet step one emissions limits by 2016. Large forced air furnaces were given an extra year to meet step one requirements, with compliance required in 2017. All forced air furnaces are required to meet the step two emissions limit by 2020.

In its Sept. 17 statement, HPBA said it stands with the wood stove industry, stressing that step 2 of the new source performance standards does not give manufacturers enough time to design and test products that meet the required standards by the May 15, 2020 enforcement deadline. According to the HPBA, many manufacturers were able to comply with step 1 of the rule. However, the group says step 2, which has a hard cut-off date without retail sell-through, does not provide the time necessary to design, test and manufacture products that meet the requirements.

“To be clear, the industry strongly supports federal emission standards for new residential wood heaters,” said the HPBA. “However, the EPA did not give manufacturers enough time to reach an extremely difficult target. For consumers, this means higher prices and fewer heating options. Consumers in rural areas across America, who rely heavily on wood stoves for heating, will be the most affected.

“With fewer and more expensive home heating options, price-sensitive consumers will not be able to replace their existing appliance with a newer EPA-certified model,” the HPBA continued. “Households looking to cut heating costs will be unable to afford what was once an affordable and sustainable home heating option.

“The House has passed legislation that will delay the Step 2 (2020) standard’s deadline by three years, until May 15, 2023,” HPBA said. “The Senate has the opportunity to pass S. 1857, a bill which will give manufacturers the time the industry needs to meet these standards.”

Other efforts are also underway to alter the 2015 rule. On Aug. 3, the EPA delivered a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that aims to amend the rule to allow retailers additional time to sell older appliances. The new proposed rule being reviewed by OMB proposes “to allow retailers a period of time after the May 2020 compliance date to sell units that were manufactured before the May 2020 compliance date,” according to information released by the OMB.  OMB review marks a final step before a proposal is released for public comment. 

Approximately one week later, on Aug. 10, the EPA delivered a pre-rule to the OMB that is also related to the 2015 rule that set performance standards for new residential wood heaters, hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces. According to information published on the OMB website, the pre-rule aims to solicit comments on issued raised by the industry with regard to the 2015 final rule.