(Anchorage, AK) – Thursday, the State of Alaska and 10 other states and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency delivered a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of their failure to update wood stove emission standards.
The communities of Fairbanks and North Pole experience some of the coldest winters in the United States, and residents rely heavily on wood stoves to keep warm. The Notice of Intent urges the EPA to fix one component of a completely dysfunctional wood stove certification program to avoid litigation, stating, “[i]f newer wood heaters do not meet cleaner standards, then programs to change out old wood heaters may provide little health benefits at significant cost.”
“We must defend the Greater Fairbanks area from potentially expensive, restrictive federal controls on businesses that are not the source of the problem like coffee roasters, restaurants, and utilities,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “On the one hand, the EPA is threatening to disapprove the State’s air quality plan for Fairbanks, yet on the other, EPA ignores its own rules that directly impact air emissions by wood stoves.”
EPA’s own Office of Inspector General issued a damning report that identified systemic failures by the EPA in administering its wood stove rules. EPA’s current emission standards result in continued sales of high-emitting wood stoves that add smoke to the air and intensify the poor air quality of inversion events.
“Wood smoke contributes 80 to 90 percent of the air quality problem in Fairbanks and North Pole. The State’s plan, which the EPA proposes to disapprove, incorporates numerous efforts to decrease the impact of wood smoke on air quality. Unfortunately, EPA regulators in Seattle and Washington, D.C. are centrally focused on elements of the SIP that will have little to no environmental benefit, or at worst are overly punitive to utility ratepayers. This lawsuit is one way Alaska is making sure EPA holds itself to the same standard they are holding us,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune.
Read the Notice of Intent filing here.
Read former news release on the State Implementation Plan, SIP, here.
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