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Oregon’s Woodsmoke Workgroup Wraps Up

Oregon’s Woodsmoke Workgroup Wraps Up

This week the Woodsmoke Workgroup wraps up a series of 4 meetings as they cobble together the best ideas for converting wood-burning stoves to cleaner alternatives.

They began meeting in December,

[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”Woodsmoke in Oregon”]House Bill 3068 (2015) directs DEQ to conduct a study and develop recommendations for legislation to reduce woodstove smoke in Oregon, particularly in communities where attainment of the national air quality standards is a concern. The bill also directs DEQ to explore options for transitioning from older, high-polluting woodstoves to cleaner burning home heating alternatives including non-wood heating systems and for reducing the cost of using woodstove alternatives for home heating during poor air quality days.[/blockquote]

Chaired by EQC Chair Jane O’Keeffe, the 15-member Workgroup includes rural and urban stakeholders.

I was eager to attend and contribute, but I would soon feel a little overwhelmed by the scope of the challenge. Whereas beach bonfires, the issue I’m most familiar with, are recreational and mostly enjoyed in public, this issue brings you into people’s homes. There are many households that heat with wood and in rural areas wood is readily available and cheap. Just like recreational bonfires, wood-burning in the home enjoys similar sentiments of nostalgia and tradition. And it’s not just as simple as converting to natural gas either – I’ve learned: “Natural gas is not coming, is never coming, to some of the worst affected communities.” To say that no one has found a “silver bullet” would be an understatement.

I’ve picked up some new buzzwords, like nonattainment:

[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”Woodsmoke in Oregon”]The Environmental Protection Agency sets health standards for six pollutants, including lead, carbon monoxide, ozone, PM, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. States are required to monitor and identify areas not meeting the standards. Those areas which don’t meet the standard are designated as nonattainment and states must develop and implement plans to bring them back into compliance to protect human health.[/blockquote]

Medford, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, Grants Pass, La Grande, Oakridge and Eugene were in nonattainment, but then worked to achieve compliance, only to face newer PM2.5 restrictions – it adds up to 30 years of effort. Being in nonattainment is not just a technicality, it’s serious:

[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”Woodsmoke in Oregon”]It means that not only is the air unhealthy, but also that legal requirements are triggered for states to reduce pollution and meet standards; stricter requirements may be imposed on new and potentially existing industry; and the stigma of nonattainment can be a deterrent to attracting new business. Communities declared nonattainment face serious public health and economic burdens.[/blockquote]

Download Woodsmoke in Oregon and contribute your bright ideas – the final meeting of the Woodsmoke Workgroup is 9am-4pm Wednesday May 11, 2016 at the Central Oregon Community College, Willie Hall, 2600 NW College Way, in Bend.

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