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Vermont Sues EPA For Failure To Update Standards For Wood Heaters

CONTACT: Thea Schwartz, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3186

October 10, 2013

Vermont and seven other states filed a lawsuit in federal court today to force the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and revise its 1988 emission standards for new residential wood burning heaters. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review and as needed revise the New Source Performance Standards (Standards) at least every eight years. EPA has not done so for 25 years. In those 25 years, there has been a substantial increase in the use of the heaters and, at the same time, advances in technology that enable the heaters to achieve much better emission rates. “Wood smoke contains pollutants that are linked to serious health effects, including cardiovascular and respiratory problems. EPA’s standards are outdated and do not even cover outdoor wood boilers,” Attorney General Bill Sorrell said. “Vermonters burn a significant amount of wood, and the federal standard should reflect technological advances that make wood burners more cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” he added.

According to EPA, fine particulate matter emitted from wood heaters comprised 13% of all particulate pollution in the United States in 2008. EPA estimates that outdoor wood boilers will produce more than 20% of emissions from wood burning by 2017. The Standards apply to new residential wood heaters and do not apply to those already in use.
The states, led by New York, are Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island. The Attorney General is undertaking this action with the assistance and support of the Agency of Natural Resources.

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