Action Ensures New Models Will Burn 90% Cleaner Than Old
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the Environmental Board today approved a new regulation that sets stringent performance standards for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) sold in the state. The regulation will go into effect 30 days after it is filed with the Secretary of State. The stricter guidelines will ensure that new OWBs burn at least 90% cleaner than older models.
“This is about ensuring that new outdoor wood boilers burn cleaner — not only for people who buy OWBs and their families, but also for their neighbors. It’s not unlike the switch to cleaner cars,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz. “It’s also to ensure that OWB stacks are high enough to disperse emissions rather than having them blow directly into houses and other dwellings. That’s important for public health. Also, we have listened to the agricultural community and made appropriate exceptions for farming operations.”
The regulation approved today includes stack height requirements for new OWBs that will reduce the impact of emission plumes on neighboring property owners. In addition, new OWBs will be required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties — except for OWBs used in agricultural operations, which must be at least 100 feet from neighboring homes. Both new and existing OWBs will be subject to fuel restrictions that ensure that only appropriate fuels are used.
“The new guidelines the state has set on outdoor wood boilers is a necessary step in improving the process of burning wood as a renewable energy resource and is not to stop people from burning clean wood,” said Village of Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Demarais. “Trying to make our air cleaner and protect our residents is our responsibility and the Village supports establishing guidelines and standards on OWBs to make this happen.”
“The new regulation on OWBs is a responsible move in the right direction without being overly intrusive on the public,” said Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Noel Merrihew. “It’s a good move to put together regulations for the manufacture of the OWBs. Outside the Hamlet areas the smoke can be a problem and this assures long term environmental benefits for our state.”
“In the past, the Cattaraugus County Health Department has been asked by residents plagued by thick smoke emissions to intervene in neighbor feuds involving improperly sited or operated outdoor wood boilers,” said Eric W. Wohlers, Environmental Health Director for Cattaraugus County. “In absence of an enforceable air quality standard, a uniform, statewide regulation to improve combustion efficiency and prevent improper siting of units, coupled with prudent enforcement requiring the exclusive use of proper wood fuel, should dramatically reduce the chance of neighborhood conflicts. There is a place for OWBs in rural New York, if they are responsibly operated and maintained. The new regulation will eventually eliminate those units that were grossly inefficient and were operated irresponsibly as backyard trash incinerators, and ultimately will be more protective of public health.”
Provisions in the regulatory proposal to phase out the use of older OWBs and place restrictions on their use in the interim have been removed and will be addressed through a new public stakeholder process to develop a revised regulatory framework to address concerns of residents impacted by the operation of such units.
The text of the final rule before the Environmental Board is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/ chemical/69348.html on the DEC website. To obtain a copy of the complete rule package before December 22, email firstname.lastname@example.org or it will be available on the DEC website after the Environmental Board meets on December 22.