Groups sue EPA over outdated furnace, boiler regs

Represented in the case by the legal team at EarthJustice, the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Council and Environment and Human Health Inc. contend that revised standards are 17 years overdue. 

The EPA is required under the statute to review emissions standards for wood furnaces and boilers every eight years, but the current regulations date back to 1988, the groups argue.

“The EPA set the current standards for wood-burning devices more than a quarter century ago, years before the first of the landmark studies that demonstrated that particles like those that make up woodsmoke can be deadly,” said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy at the American Lung Association.

Woodsmoke contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens, the groups argue in the suit. They are asking the court to order EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to issue a new set of standards. 

The new regulations would only apply to new units, and would not affect existing boilers or furnaces.

The states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, filed a similar lawsuit Wednesday.

The legal challenges accompany a decades-long expansion of the market for outdoor boilers. More than 10,000 unites are sold annually, according to David Presley, staff attorney for the Clean Air Council.

Most fail to meet a set of voluntary standards developed by the EPA and industry groups, Presley said.