According to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, smoke from
OWBs is worse than other wood smoke because of poor combustion and the large amounts of
smoke emitted, up to ten times as much as indoor woodstoves.34 Vermont rules:
> Ban purchases of non-Phase 2 boilers after March 31,2010;
> Require setbacks and, in some cases, minimum stack heights;
> Allow combustion of only wood or other specified fuels;
> Require compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including local ordinances;
> Prohibit operation of OWBs that create public nuisances;
> Require notice to buyers of the provisions of the Vermont OWB rule; and
> Set testing and certification requirements for manufacturers, and notification
requirements from manufacturers to distributors and sellers of OWBs.35
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has proposed a new rule
for outdoor hydronic heaters, noting citizen complaints: "Larger capacity, low stack heights,
design differences, operating conditions, and lower operating temperatures cause more intense
smoking and smoldering conditions nearer to ground level than with other wood burning
devices."36 The IDEM proposal catalogs a many of citizen complaints, including smoke entering
homes, smoke obscuring driver visibility, health impacts, and requests for a seasonal prohibition;
commenters support for stack height and siting regulations.
Maine Department of Environmental Protection, "Regulation of Outdoor Wood Boilers" (information sheet), rev.
July 4, 2008, at 1, available at
http://wwwjTiaine,gov/dep/aifVwoQdsmoke/dociiments/OWBiiifo (last visited Feb. 11,
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Air Pollution Control, "Outdoor Wood-Fired
Boilers: A Controversial Wood Heating Technology" (fact sheet), at 1-2, available at
http://www.vtwoodsmoke.org/about.html (last visited Feb. 10,2010).
12-031-001 Code of Vermont Rules § 5-204 (2010).
Air Pollution Control Board, Second Notice of Comment Period: Development of New Rules Concerning
Emissions from Outdoor Hydronic Heaters, Jan. 6, 2010, available at http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20100106-
IR-326050332SNA.xml.html (last visited Feb. 10,2010). The proposal notes that outdoor hydronic heaters are also
referred to as outdoor wood boilers or outdoor wood burning furnaces.
As proposed, the Indiana rule would:
> Prohibit the sale of non-Phase 2 outdoor hydronic heaters
> Require a minimum stack height of five feet higher than the peak of any roof located
within 150 feet of the unit and not located on the same property on which the heater is
> Ban the operation of non-Phase 2 outdoor hydronic heaters between May 1 and
> Prohibit the combustion of specified fuels in outdoor hydronic heaters
> Prohibit emissions exceeding a specified opacity
> Require notice to buyers of the Indiana outdoor hydronic heater rule and the address of
the location where the heater will be installed.
Regarding outdoor wood-burning furnaces installed after July 8, 2005, Connecticut law
> a 200 foot setback from the nearest residence not serviced by the furnace;
> installation of the chimney of the furnace at a height more than the heights of the roof
peaks of the residences that are located within five hundred feet of the furnace, which
residences are not serviced by the furnace, provided the chimney height is not more than
> combustion of no other materials in the furnace besides wood that has not been
Connecticut law specifically authorizes municipal enforcement of these rules.
F. Other Jurisdictions
Other jurisdictions regulating OWBs include New Jersey,
41 Massachusetts,42 New
43 and 63 municipalities in New York State that have banned or regulated OWBs44.
Id- (pages not numbered, proposed rule at end of document),
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-174k (2008).
w Id. at § 22a-174k(c).
See New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Air Quality Planning, "Wood Burning in
New Jersey", available at http://www.ni.gov/dep/baqp/woodburning.html, citing N.J.A.C. § 7:27, Subchapter 3 (last
visited Feb. 10,2010).
Mass Regs. Code tit. 310, § 7.26(50) (2010); see also Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection,
"Outdoor Hydronic Heater Regulation" (fact sheet), available at
http://www.mass.gov/dep/service/regulations/ohhregfs.pdf (last visited Feb. 12, 2010)("Outdoor hydronic heaters
can produce heavy smoke and release it close to the ground, where it can linger and expose people in the area to
health risks and nuisance conditions").
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125-R.
New York Attorney General Report at 19-23.
EPA’s Burn Wise website also describes rules, model ordinances, and other programs in
Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin.45
Other states have acted to address public health and nuisance concerns from OWBs.
Pennsylvania must ensure that our regulations reflect, at a minimum, the best measures adopted
in other states, and be prepared to enforce these rules.
IV. The proposed Pennsylvania OWE rule needs to be strengthened.
A. The OWE must address older units.
U.S. EPA has announced a "Phase 2" program for hydronic heaters, or outdoor wood
46 The program certifies as Phase 2-compliant those units that achieve an average air
emission level of 0.32 pounds per million Btu heat output, where no individual test run that is
used in the calculation of the average exceeds 18.0 grams of fine particles per hour.
47 This is a
significant improvement over the now-terminated Phase I program of 0.60 pounds per million
Btu heat output, and a 90% improvement over emissions from units that pre-date the U.S. EPA
48 We support the requirement in the proposed rule that, after the effective date of the
rule, only Phase 2-compliant units may be sold, offered for sale, distributed, installed,
purchased, leased or received in Pennsylvania.
However, this requirement will do nothing to deal with the dirtier, existing fleet of
OWBs. As noted above, Washington State has taken a comprehensive approach to this issue,
with its ban on OWBs failing to meet an advanced emission limit. To address older units, we
recommend that Pennsylvania initiate a buy-back program for pre-Phase I OWBs.
program would use monies from the Clean Air Fund
51 to repurchase the dirtiest OWBs at a price
reflecting depreciation. This program should include outreach to counties and municipalities to
help identify the OWBs that have been the source of complaints.
B. The setback requirements in the proposed rule may not adequately protect
neighbors against wood smoke dangers.
U.S. EPA, "Burn Wise: Agencies—Ordinances and Regulations", available at
http://www.epa.gov/bumwise/ordinances.html (last visited Feb. 10, 2010),
See "EPA Hydronic Heater Program: Phase 2 Partnership Agreement", Oct. 15, 2008, available at
http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/pdfs/owhhphase2agreement.pdf (last visited Feb. 7, 2010).
U.S. EPA, "EPA’s Phase 2 Voluntary Partnership Program Outdoor Wood-Fired Heaters" (fact sheet), at 1,
available at http://www.epa.gov/bumwise/pdts/HH-flyer 10-21 -08.pdf (last visited Feb. 5, 2010).
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(b)(l, 2)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6068).
Maine has instituted such a program. See Code of Maine Rules Agency 06, Chapter 160. A bill (S. 236) recently
introduced in the Vermont General Assembly would start such a program there. Candace Page, "Vermont Considers
Boiler Buyback Program", Burlington Free Press, Feb. 1,2010, at A5, available at
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2010100131024 (site visited Feb. 10, 2010).
35 P.S. 4009.2 (2010) and 25 Pa. Code § 143.1 (2010).
The proposed rule states: "A person may not install a Phase 2 outdoor wood-fired boiler
in this Commonwealth unless the boiler is installed a minimum of 150 feet from the nearest
52 The Board does not explain its basis for choosing 150 feet as an appropriate
minimum setback distance. To the extent that the Board is relying on stack heights to protect
neighbors, stack heights are not a complete remedy to dense pollution from obsolete boilers (see
next section) and should be accompanied by aggressive setbacks to protect neighbors. At a
minimum, the Board should adopt the 200 foot setback from the nearest residence not served by
the OWB in effect in Connecticut
53 in addition to the 150 feet from the nearest property line
proposed for Pennsylvania.
C. The Department should not rely solely on stack height requirements to protect
The proposed rule would require permanently attached stacks that extend a minimum of
10 feet off the ground. For Phase 2 boilers, the stack must extend at least two feet above the
highest peak of the highest residence located within 150 feet of the OWB. For existing boilers,
this requirement applies as to residences within 500 feet.
However, these stack heights may not be adequate to protect neighbors. Emissions may
not have adequate velocity to rise and disperse:
Stack heights this short typically fail to disperse smoke adequately,
resulting in excessive ground level smoke. Because OWBs rarely provide
stovepipe fans to increase the upward velocity of the smoke, there is only limited
vertical dispersion of OWB emissions. Certain weather conditions aggravate this
situation, such as cold weather inversions when the smoke does not rise but stays
close to the ground.
As another study states, "OWB pollution is exacerbated because the low stack design does not
disperse the smoke as well as conventional chimneys." If emissions do not disperse, weather and
topography can cause concentrated smoke to reach neighboring yards and homes.
Although stack heights alone are not adequate to protect neighbors in all settings, we
support minimum stack height requirements as part of an overall OWB pollution control
D. The Department must not assume that fuel restrictions will resolve the problem of
pollution from wood-fired boilers.
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(c)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6072).
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-174k (2008).
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(d, e)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6072).
NESCAUM Assessment at 2-1.
See also New York Attorney General Report at 5 ("The short OWB chimney and reduced draft often fail to
disperse the smoke, resulting in more concentrated pollution at lower heights reaching residents and neighbors.")
and U.S. EPA, "EPA Hydronic Heater Program, Phase 2 Partnership Agreement", Oct. 15, 2008, available at
http://epa.gov/burnwise/pdfs/owhhphase2agreement.pdf (last visited Feb. 7, 2010)(stack height and other factors
"may not always be adequate to prevent nuisance conditions due to terrain or other factors").
The Department proposes to prohibit all fuels in OWBs besides clean wood, wood pellets
made from clean wood, some oil, gas or propane, and other fuels approved by the Department.
The proposed rule bans the combustion of treated wood, garbage, plastic, and a host of other
high-polluting materials sometimes burned in OWBs.
We support this proposal. The proposal accords with recommendations by the U.S.
58 The Health, Patio and Barbeque Association also agrees, recommending burning only
those fuel recommended by the manufacturer, and never trash, plastic, treated wood, or other
However, limiting combustion to the listed materials does not, by itself, prevent air
pollution that impacts neighbors. Wood smoke results in emissions of fine particles capable of
causing nuisance to neighbors and fine particle level exceeding national health standards. For
residential heating, wood combustion has the highest effective fine particle emissions per unit of
60 Moreover, U.S. EPA estimates that residential wood combustion results in 62 percent of
all emissions of seven polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are probable human
61 Therefore, the Board needs a combination of effective measures to protect the
public from all harmful emissions from OWBs, including those emissions from wood smoke.
E. We support the notice and recordkeeping requirements of the proposed rule.
The proposed rule would require notice to an OWB buyer regarding fuel restrictions, the
applicability of other Commonwealth regulations and statutes, the possible application of local
regulations (including stack height and setback requirements), and the possibility that the
operation of an OWB may still cause a nuisance or a public health hazard despite stack height
and setback requirements.
62 The notice requirement will also collect information about the buyer
and location where the OWB will be installed.
63 The recordkeeping provision requires the
distributor, seller, or lessor to keep these records on site and provide them to the Department
We support these aspects of the proposed rule. The notice to OWB buyers will help
buyers operate units in a way that reduces impacts on their own families and on neighbors. The
proposed information collection will allow the Department to track locations and concentrations
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(f, g)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6072).
U.S. EPA, Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke, Oct. 29, 2009, at 8, available at
http://wwvvxpa.gov/ttn/oarpg/tl/memoranda/strateRics-doc-8-l 1 -09.pdf (last visited Feb. 7, 2010).
Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, "Outdoor Wood Furnace Best Burn Practices" (fact sheet), available at
http://static.hpba.org/fileadmin/PDFs/Ticr IV Outdoor Wood Furnace Best Bum Practices – MH3.pdf(last
visited Feb. 7,2010).
Houck, James E. et al., "Air Emissions from Residential Heating: The Wood Heating Option Put into
Environmental Perspective", Conference Proceedings: Emission Inventory: Living in a Global Environment, pp.
373-384, available at http://www.woodheat.org/environment/hpawma.pdf (last visited Feb. 12, 2010).
U.S. EPA, Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke, Oct. 29, 2009, at 4, available at
http://www.epa.gOv/ttn/oarpg/t 1 /memoranda/strategies-doc-8-11 -09.pdf (last visited Feb. 7, 2010).
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(i)(l)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6073).
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(i)(2)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6073).
25 Pa. Code § 123.14(j)(as proposed, 39 Pa. Bull, at 6073).
of OWBs and promote the effective implementation of the rule and facilitate the monitoring of
ambient air impacts from OWBs. This information must be made available to the public through
file reviews at the Department.
F. The Department must provide extra protection in spring and summer.
The Board has requested comments on whether a final rule should include a seasonal
prohibition on operating OWBs between the dates of May 1 and September 30.
65 For neighbors
who want to keep windows and doors open and spend time outdoors during the warmer months,
this can be an especially hard time to live next to an operating OWB. It is also a time when
heating a home via an OWB is less necessary. Therefore, we support a seasonal prohibition on
operating OWBs between the dates of May 1 and September 30.
G. The Department must effectively enforce the OWB rule.
The Department must provide effective outreach and enforcement to prevent public
health and nuisances from OWBs:
> The Department should provide information, including on its website, for consumers
regarding the economic and health issues involved with OWBs;
> The Department should train at least one specialist in each regional office in OWB issues,
in OWB inspections, and in methods of evaluating OWB emissions;
> The Department should log all complaints regarding OWBs, and follow-up by recording
Department actions taken in response; and
> The Department should bring all enforcement tools to bear on OWB violations, including
but not limited to enforcement orders, penalty actions, and actions to respond to
We support Board efforts to regulate OWB setbacks, stack heights, and fuel, and to
establish notice and recordkeeping requirements. Some of these proposals must be strengthened
as described above. However, to provide direct, immediate relief, the Board must adopt the
seasonal prohibition. Also, the Board should authorize the use of the Clean Air Fund to buy
back the highest-polluting, most dangerous OWBs. In accordance with the Pennsylvania
Constitution and the Air Pollution Control Act, we urge the Board to adopt strong regulations
that protect against nuisance and public health impacts.
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1518
Philadelphia, PA 19102
The Monroe County Model Ordinance includes an optional seasonal prohibition (§ 12).
Some of this information has been posted by the Department at
http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/airwaste/aq/openburn/openburn.htm (last visited Feb. 12, 2010).
Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director
Clean Air Council
135 S. 19th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Energy and Clean Air Advocate
1420 Walnut Street, Suite 650
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Nancy F. Parks, Chair, Clean Air Committee
Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter
201 West Aaron Square
P.O. Box 120
Aaronsburg, PA 16820-0120
Kevin M. Stewart
Director of Environmental Health
American Lung Association in Pennsylvania
3001 Old Gettysburg Road
Camp Hill, PA 17011
Summary of Comments by Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture),
Clean Air Council, PennEnvironment, Sierra Club-Pennsylvania Chapter, and
American Lung Association in Pennsylvania
on Outdoor Wood-Fired Boiler Proposed Rule
Our groups support regulation of outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWBs) by the Department
of Environmental Protection (Department). Pollution from OWBs poses significant risks due to
high emissions of fine particles and other pollutants. A single OWE can cause fine particle
levels exceeding national health standards at a distance of 50 to 150 feet. Fine particles are
associated with heart disease, lung disease, and premature death. Part of all of twenty-two
Pennsylvania counties already do not meet national health standards for fine particles.
OWBs also cause nuisance (quality of life) effects for neighbors. Across the state,
neighbors find they cannot remain in their yards because of smoke and fumes, and even
sometimes have watery eyes, sore throats, and burning lungs inside their homes. These
neighbors of OWBs need immediate relief.
County and municipal governments are on the front lines of the OWE problem, and we
hope they will play a strong role in responding to nuisance air pollution from OWBs. However,
few have ordinances targeted at OWBs, enforcement is uneven, and the Department has special
expertise in air pollution matters. We urge the Environmental Quality Board (Board) to adopt a
statewide rule for enforcement by the Department. This rule should also preserve existing legal
remedies for neighbors.
There is ample precedent for Pennsylvania to take action. Other states have responded to
OWB pollution with regulations containing similar elements to those proposed here, including
setbacks, stack heights, fuel restrictions, prohibitions on the sale of pre-Phase 2 boilers, and
notices to OWB purchasers.
An effective rule in Pennsylvania must include a combination of these items, plus several
additional elements. Neighbors want to be outside in their yards and have windows open in their
homes during the summer, when heating needs from OWBs are also reduced. Therefore, we
support the seasonal prohibition on OWB operation between May 1 and September 30. Also, we
need an effective way to reduce emissions from older, dirtier OWBs already operating in
Pennsylvania, A buyback program could help remove some of these units. Finally, the
Department must respond effectively to citizen complaints regarding OWBs, including by
enforcement action when appropriate.
We urge the Board to take aggressive action that will protect the public health and
From: Charles McPhedran [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2010 4:32 PM
To: Schalles, Scott R.; IRRC
Subject: EQB proposed regulation #7-444 (IRRC #2802) "Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers"
Attachments: OWB Comments As Submitted.pdf; OWB Comments One Page Summary.pdf
Comments by several groups on the Outdoor Wood-Fired Boiler proposal are attached for IRRC’s consideration. Also
attached is the one-page summary submitted to the Environmental Quality Board.
Charles McPhedran | Law Staff Chair | PennFuture
(215) 545-9693 | mcphedran(5)pennfuture.orq | http://www.pennfuture.orq