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Comments submitted on Mar. 7, 2008 regarding Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers (OWBs)

Published Mar. 12, 2008

March 7, 2008

Ms. Carolina Prado
Ohio EPA - Division Air Pollution Control
Lazarus Government Center
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049

Re: Draft Rules in OAC Chapter 3745-115

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) would like to thank you for the opportunity to review and submit comments on the draft rules in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-115 to regulate outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWB).

OFBF is the largest general farm organization in the state of Ohio with members in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.  Our members produce virtually every kind of agricultural commodity and as a result, OFBF is strongly interested in Ohio’s environmental policies and their potential impact to sustaining a viable agbioresource industry.  OFBF policies support the development of programs that are scientifically based, economically sound and whenever possible, delivered in a flexible and voluntary manner.

US EPA initiated an outdoor wood-fired hydronic heater (OWHH) program in January of 2007.  The OWHH program is a voluntary program that encourages manufacturers to improve air quality through developing and distributing cleaner, more efficient outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters.  As a result, OWBs are available to home and business owners that will achieve emission reductions and protect public health.  The federal voluntary OWHH program is only one-year old but has already produced results.  As of February 28, 2008, eighteen (18) OWB manufacturers have signed and committed resources to develop cleaner OWBs with the goal of distributing these units as soon as possible.  The proposed Ohio EPA rule-making should be postponed to allow enough time for the federal voluntary program to succeed.

As per the published February 5, 2008 Public Notice, we have performed our review of the draft new OWB rules.  Our comments will address our concerns with draft OAC rule 3745-115-02, Requirements.  This rule establishes the requirements to be followed by any manufacturer, distributor or person intending to distribute or sell an OWB in the state of Ohio and/or to any person who installs, operates or owns an OWB.

1. Paragraphs (B)(1)(a), (B)(1)(b), (B)(2)(a) and (B)(2)(b) establish a two-phase emission standard limit, property line setback and permanent stack height requirements for new OWBs to be installed after the effective date of these rules.

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation can see the value of establishing boiler performance standards (emission standard limits) for new OWBs.  This is exactly what the current federal voluntary OWHH program accomplishes.  Why duplicate the efforts?  Establishing property line restrictions in a formal rule does not provide the opportunity to take into account the many varied situations of location and prevailing winds.  A 200-foot property line set back will effectively serve as a de-facto OWB ban for many home and business owners.

2. Paragraph (B)(3) establishes seasonal operation limits (prohibits the use of OWBs from April 15 to September 13) for OWBs that do not meet the established emission standards for new OWBs.

Home and business owners in Ohio are searching for reasonable alternatives for the high price of meeting their fossil-fuel based heating needs.  Many of our members have installed and use OWBs as their sole method of meeting their home or farm operation heating needs.  A review of Ohio climatology data indicates that the average monthly low temperature for April ranges from 35 – 40 degrees (with as many as 10 days having a low temperature below 32 degrees).  The month of April averages 470 heating degree days.  Prohibiting the use of an OWB from mid-April would create an unrealistic hardship for those individuals without an alternative heating source.  If a seasonal OWB operation limit must be used it has to be realistic for the climate conditions found in Ohio.  Extending the start date from mid-April to mid or late May would help to eliminate this home and business owner hardship.

3. Paragraphs (D)(1), (D)(2)(a), (D)(2)(b), (D)(2)(c) and (D)(3) establish emission standard limits, property line setback and permanent stack height requirements for existing OWBs in restricted and unrestricted areas.  In the event that these requirements are not met, the homeowner must remove the OWB or render it permanently inoperable.

All existing installed OWBs should be grandfathered and exempted from the emission standard limits, setback and stack height requirements being established for new installations.  These units were properly installed according to manufacturers’ recommendations and applicable state and local codes.  OWBs have a useful life of 10 – 20 years.  To require that a fully functional operating OWB to be taken out of service is unreasonable, places an economic hardship on the homeowner and is in effect an unfunded mandate.  Paragraphs (D)(1), (D)(2)(a), (D)(2)(b), (D)(2)(c) and (D)(3) should be removed from the draft rule effectively grandfathering and exempting all existing installed OWBs.

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.  Feel free to give Dr. Larry Antosch of our staff a call, at 614-246-8264, if you have any questions regarding these comments.

Sincerely,

John C. Fisher
Executive Vice President

JCF/lma



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