Thursday, November 17, 2011
Traditional wood-burning stoves are still one of the most cost-efficient, sustainable, and renewable sources of energy production that families can use to heat their homes. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a huge fan of them, as was evidenced by its recent decision to push those who use traditional models to convert to EPA-approved — and oftentimes much more expensive — alternative models.
Throughout history, civilizations have relied on the burning of wood to cook food, warm water, and heat places of dwelling. After all, trees are an abundant and renewable source of wood, which means that the costs associated with obtaining energy and heat from burning wood are minimal. This, of course, is why many cash-strapped folks today are turning to wood-burning stoves rather than their local utilities.
But the EPA is now expressing concern about the 80 percent-or-so of wood stove users that still rely on non-EPA approved models. Most of the wood stoves manufactured before 1990 do not contain the EPA’s certification stamp of approval which, in the eyes of the agency, means they are an unnecessary contributor of excess environmental pollution.
This is debatable, of course, as EPA-approved models can still emit excess smoke just like the others, and may not necessarily provide any pollution-reducing benefits at all. Because of their altered designs, many of the new EPA-approved models do not work as well as the older models, either, especially when used in severely-cold weather (http://www.energybulletin.net/51578).
Most wood-burning stove companies in the US actually went out of business shortly after the EPA established its original certification requirements for wood stoves back in the 1990s. Many of the companies simply could not develop a complying product that actually worked. Today, the EPA is once again revisiting these New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) guidelines in order to push even more people away from the old stoves.
At the same time, EPA spokeswoman Alison Davis recently tried to whitewash the agency’s position against wood stoves by claiming that the EPA is “not in the business of telling people how to heat their homes.” No, it is actually in the business of restricting the types of wood stoves manufacturers are allowed to produce and sell, which ultimately does tell people how to heat their homes by robbing them of their freedom of choice.
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