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State adopts clean air plan for wood stoves

The state’s Department of Ecology last week adopted changes to the statewide rule and plan for solid-fuel burning devices like wood stoves, fireplaces, pellet stoves and masonry heaters.

The updates reflect recent changes to state law, meet federal requirements from the EPA and will help improve air quality, officials with the Department of Ecology note.

Washington’s clean air rules govern how air pollution is managed. The Department of Ecology incorporates many of these rules into a federally required statewide plan for meeting clean air standards.

Specifically, the new rule lowers the threshold for issuing burn bans in areas with poor air quality that are at risk for “nonattainment” and contains changes that improve rule consistency and clarity.

Those at-risk areas as described in the new rules include Yakima, Tacoma-Pierce County, Darrington and Marysville.

Air pollution managers will use the updates to help reduce levels of fine-particle pollution in all areas of the state. Particularly, for areas affected by wood stove pollution.

Prior to updating the rule, the Department of Ecology and Washington clean air agencies were already initiating burn bans in a manner that was consistent with legislative changes.

Under the new guidelines, local clean air agencies like the one in Yakima can impose a Stage 2 burn ban without first calling for a Stage 1 ban during certain air quality conditions.

Under a Stage 2 ban, for example, fuel must be withheld from pellet stoves, wood stoves and other devices.

The Department of Ecology asked for public comments and hosted public hearings last November while working to update the rule and plan.

The rule is subject to a 60-day appeal period. The revised rule has been submitted to EPA for approval and incorporation into the state’s clean air plan. EPA will hold an additional public comment period for the updated plan.

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