The state's leading small business organization, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), praised Governor Rick Snyder for signing into law Senate Bill 910. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), would prohibit Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) from enforcing EPA’s proposed rule restrictions on wood stoves and wood burning appliances. The bill was one of a number of pieces of legislation that made it to the Governor's desk during the last week of the 2014 "lame duck" session.
The EPA is seeking new regulations called New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new residential wood heaters and wood heating appliances. The new standards also include pellet, corn burner and outdoor wood boilers.
Manufacturers of wood stoves and heating appliances have estimated that the proposed new emission requirements could virtually end the burning of wood for heat in the United States and more than double the cost of new wood burning appliances. The new rules would also make it difficult or impossible for homebuilders and commercial contractors to include fireplaces or wood – biomass heating options in new construction.
“Leave it to the same EPA and the Washington bureaucrats that want to dictate what light bulbs we use and how our toilets flush to seek tougher restrictions on wood burning on the heels of a record cold winter season,” said NFIB State Director Charlie Owens. “The ruling elite in DC are completely out of touch with reality on this one.”
Senate Bill 910, now Public Act 417 of 2014, will prohibit the Michigan DEQ from enforcing any new EPA rule restrictions on wood stoves and wood burning appliances, while resolutions SR 14 and SCR 127 memorialize Congress to halt the rules. At the federal level, Congressman Dan Benishek, whose district includes the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan, is a cosponsor of HR 4407 introduced by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-CD3) that also curtails EPA’s attempt to further regulate wood burning heat sources.
At a previous hearing on the legislation, small business owners Warren W. Walborn, President & CEO of Hawken Energy Inc. in Shelby, MI; Jeff Zack, President of Z Supply, LLC in Muskegon, MI; and Craig Wertz owner of Ridgewood Stoves in Hersey, MI testified on how the EPA rules will harm their business and cost jobs.
“Nearly 90 percent of wood stove manufacturers are small businesses as are the dealers that repair and sell these devices,” said Owens. “In addition, these heaters are used by many farmers and small business owners in to offset the high cost of energy in rural areas.”