EPA proposes to extend deadline for Step 1 wood heater sales

By Erin Voegele | May 18, 2020

The U.S. EPA on May 15 proposed to allow manufacturers and retailers additional time to sell residential wood heating devices that meet Step 1 standards under the 2015 new source performance standards (NSPS) due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under current regulations, Step 1 devices can only be sold through May 15, 2020. A proposed rule released by the EPA on May 15 aims to extend that deadline until Nov. 30, 2020. The agency said it has issued the proposed amendment in reaction to the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-91 public health emergency, which has resulted in significant losses in retail sales due to temporary closures of stores, stay-at-home orders, and other restrictions. According to the EPA, the proposed action would ensure retailers regain time for normal business operations lost due to the public health emergency.

“This additional time to sell Step 1-certified devices will give businesses an opportunity to recover sales that have been lost due to the coronavirus health crisis,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “More than 90 percent of manufacturers and retailers of wood heaters are small businesses, many of which have experienced significant losses in retail sales. This action will provide economic relief to these employers as America begins to reopen its businesses.”

The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association has spoken out in support of the proposed rule, noting the proposed sell-through would provide critical support to small businesses without costing U.S. taxpayers any money. “We urge EPA to finalize it as soon as possible to provide this much-needed relief,” the HPBA said in a May 15 statement.

“Step 1 wood heaters were a considerable upgrade in 2015 compared to the models certified to the prior 1988 standards,” the HPBA continued. “Any consumer who replaces an older wood heater with a Step 1 certified wood heater will contribute to improving their community’s air quality. Today’s EPA-certified stoves cut emissions by more than 70 percent when compared to stoves of the past. These perfectly good products, all of which were certified less than five years ago, will be unsellable after May 15 without this additional selling time; this is an unnecessary waste of quality products and imposes a crippling cost on small businesses. As soon as EPA finalizes this proposal, retailers will have the ability to sell these Step 1 products, enabling them to purchase newer Step 2 models that manufacturers have been working hard to develop over the past five years.”

The proposed rule is subject to a 45-day public comment period. The comment period will open once the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The EPA also said, if requested, a virtual public hearing will be held 15 days after the proposal is published. Additional information is available on the EPA website.