Vermont AG says woodstove owners deserve clarity from EPA on emissions

Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2023 at 8:17 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont and New York are among 10 states intending to sue the EPA over wood stove standards. In a letter to the EPA last week, the states accuse the agency of failing to review and ensure emissions standards by allowing the continued sale of appliances that could worsen pollution.

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General released a report in February saying their 2015 performance standards are flawed and lack clarity. Those performance standards were scheduled to receive an update earlier this year but that never happened.

“There are no systems in place for certifying and testing these wood stoves,” said Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark.

In a notice of intent to sue, Vermont, along with New York, Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, says the EPA is not taking steps to protect public health or the environment.

Under current EPA rules, woodstoves are being tested and certified by third-party labs using different methods. “Right now, we have a regulation they haven’t followed. It expired in May -- or was due in May. Every eight years they’re supposed to review those performance standards and they haven’t reviewed those performance standards,” Clark said.

Ray Plagge, the owner of Stove & Flag Works in Montpelier, says wood stoves are supposed to emit less than two grams of soot per hour. He says unless that number changes, updating the standards would mostly impact manufacturers. “Assuming they do change the standard, some of the products might not meet that standard. Hopefully, we’d have some time to sell them off,” he said.

Clark also points out that the state and many individuals have put down money to upgrade to systems meeting current EPA standards. “Vermonters deserve to get what they’re paying for and that means making sure that these wood stoves are as good as they say they are,” she said.

Clark says the EPA has not provided a formal response to the notice of intent to sue. They also did not respond to a WCAX request for comment. If the EPA fails to do this review, Clarks says they will file suit in late August.