HPBA is actively protecting your interests.
Saving Small Businesses with a Fight for Time
After nearly 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), controlling emissions from new residential wood stoves and air tight fireplace inserts. EPA also regulated, for the first time, pellet stoves and inserts, warm air furnaces, and outdoor hydronic heaters. The tight deadlines in this regulation may put thousands of U.S. manufacturing, distribution, and retail jobs in peril. The industry supports federal standards for woodburning appliances instead of many different state regulations, but without more time, many small businesses in our industry will be regulated out of existence. Rural communities that depend on our products, both for heating homes and employing workers, will be especially hard hit.
The NSPS rule for new residential woodburning products was finalized in 2015 and has two sets of targets. Manufacturers already have met the Step 1 targets. However, to meet the Step 2 targets, which are more stringent, manufacturers must complete lengthy, expensive research and development, test appliances for durability and safety, send them to an EPA-accredited lab for testing and approval, and then finally have their products certified by the EPA. To have these products in stores by the Step 2 deadline of May 2020, manufacturers must complete the full process by no later than next summer.
HPBA continues to support reasonable standards for wood appliances to burn more cleanly; however, the problems with Step 2 of the NSPS must be addressed. For some of the products covered in this rule, EPA has set Step 2 emission limits based on little or no data; for other products, EPA has made changes to the analytical methodology, which increases the difficulty in determining whether or not an appliance even complies with the new standard. For wood stoves, EPA has even set a target, for units tested with cordwood, without an agreed-upon test method in use. These changes collectively make the new limits exceedingly difficult to achieve – especially with a very tight deadline.
With only five EPA-approved test labs, the entire industry faces a logjam getting products tested. As the deadline gets closer, hundreds of appliances will need testing and certification all at once. To mitigate this threat, HPBA believes the deadline for the NSPS must be extended. Pushing back the effective date for Step 2 requirements by three years will not only provide manufacturers with equal opportunity and necessary access to testing labs, it will also ensure that products can continue to be sold by retailers, an important staple to healthy local economies.
In January, Congressmen Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), along with six other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, recognized the strain the regulation had put on the industry and the need for more time to comply with it. They introduced H.R. 453, known as the “Relief from New Source Performance Standards Act” of 2017, to extend the May 15, 2020 effective date of Step 2 by three years to May 15, 2023. In September, identical legislation, S. 1857, was introduced in the Senate by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Many companies, both large and small, already are laying off workers to divert capital necessary to fund the expensive research and development costs, which can range from $200,000 to $500,000 per product (plus an additional $20,000 fee per official laboratory test). Small companies, which constitute the vast majority of the hearth industry, can find these expenses particularly burdensome.
HPBA and its members have been long-time champions of woodburning product innovation through more efficient and cleaner burning technology. Biomass, such as wood, is an important renewable home heating option. HPBA will use every opportunity to ensure the general public has a wide variety of woodburning appliances available. HPBA will continue to advocate for a three-year extension of the NSPS.
The threat of regulation is not purely a U.S. issue. In Canada, federal and provincial regulators are imposing new requirements for vented gas fireplaces. Proposed regulation from Natural Resources Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources include minimum efficiencies and bans on continuous pilots. While industry may not be able to prevent all regulation, if industry works to address energy conservation issues, we should be able to lessen the impact and scope of regulation on both sides of the border.
We Can’t Stop Now
Whether it’s the NSPS, energy conservation, or another issue, HPBA cannot protect the hearth industry’s interests alone. HPBA’s members have helped the Government Affairs team accomplish so much simply by contacting Members of the House of Representatives and Senators through the Legislative Action Center. HPBA’s online Legislative Action Center provides easy ways to contact your member of Congress.
Members: Don’t forget the Legislative Action Center is available anytime you’d like; access it at www.hpba.org/Resources/Advocacy-Center/Legislative-Action-Center.
Not an HPBA member? Join today!
If you’re a retailer, contact our affiliate in your region to become a member by visiting www.hpba.org/members/hpba-affiliates.
The HPBA Journal is intended to provide in-depth information to the hearth and outdoor products industries. Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the officers, board, staff or members of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.
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