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Wood stove news from Unforgettable Fire

The last several months have seen much tenuous action with wood stove regulation which we think our neighbors should know about.

To give you a history, when I was growing up on the Island one could feel the sting of creosote which hung in the air during inversion layer days when leaving my mothers home for school and the smell of woodsmoke was most always present. Unfortunately this meant that our wood stoves were polluting the air, and our lungs.

Stoves of old were able to emit up to 70 plus grams of particulate emissions per hour which were carcinogenic in nature and sized small enough to get lodged in the lung tissue. Worse yet some of these particles measuring 2.5 microns could pass through the walls of the lungs and into the bloodstream, the EPA had to act.

During the late 80’s and early 90’s as many as 280 manufacturers of wood burning products went out of business, some probably needed to.

The rest began producing stoves that would emit no more than 7.5 grams per hour, just 10% of what stoves normally produced. This was a clean up effort of the likes I do not believe any industry on the world had ever done. On the heels of that action 3 states (Washington, Oregon and Colorado) brought their standards to 4.5 grams per hour. This is the business atmosphere I grew up in. It was to this set of standards my first stove was designed to meet or beat, and beat it we did. Our Kimberly was certified at 3.2 grams per hour.

Not long after we had returned from attending the  wood stove design challenge as one of 12 finalists out of 261 global applicants we saw the beginning of another round of EPA involvement. We knew as soon as we saw the proposals that many more companies would soon close. In January of this year a proposal was signed for review and public comments (including possible lawsuits) that would force all stoves to comply with a new standard of 1.3 grams per hour. Within weeks of this action Thelin Hearth Products of Grass Valley California announced that they were closing their doors for good.

I have long disliked catalytic stoves as I feel they do not keep up their performance over a long period and cats are rarely replaced. I am also aware that a group called the Cold Weather Institute in Fairbanks Alaska is discussing the idea of banning catalytic stoves in the state. This opens fire on the half of the industry that could meet the new standards proposed by the EPA.

During this time we have been working with our second wood stove, the Katydid. I might say we were fortunate to be working on our Katydid when all this came up. While we have had to commit another $85,000.00 to R&D and testing we are creating a non catalytic equipped stove that surpasses the strictest EPA proposal. The data we are seeing is both very stable and repeatable. We are quite sure this new stove will certify somewhere between .5 and .75 grams per hour, I believe this has never been done without the use of Catalytic elements.

At the time of this writing we are meeting with potential investors in green energy development. Funding is being discussed which would create an inventory, complete all certification processes, get samples to outside reps and cover promotional needs. We are highly encouraged by the response we are getting.

Now all that may seem really great for our company, but what about the others. This new set of rules will only create more jobless people who will heat their homes by burning such things as baby diapers, plastic toys, wet wood. I have personally seen this and it is wrong.

Our country can not afford to be losing jobs, especially when the thing being “over regulated” is so much less harmful than the alternatives. The use of Gas furnaces for example includes such things as fracking, drilling, spilling, explosions, maintaining distribution networks, and all of these things are driven by OIL. simply look at recent disasters like the coal ash dump into a river which feeds water to everyone living there. The BP oil spill will never be cleaned up and at one point last year there were 17 spills of major size in just thirty days.

I urge you to write the EPA comment line and your state representatives about this, become educated in the bigger picture of how laws are made and the consequences of inadequate foresight. This is something we should all be doing unless we want all our decisions made for us, and the benefit of those who prosper from laws which make no sense.