EPA proposes extending deadline for selling wood heaters with high smoke output

EPA proposes extending deadline for selling wood heaters with high smoke output
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing extending the deadline to sell wood heating devices that emit more smoke, citing the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on retailers.

The agency proposed a rule late Friday that would change the last day to sell heaters that emit up to 4.5 grams of smoke per hour to Nov. 30. Under the previous rule, last Friday would have been the last day to sell the heaters, forcing retailers to sell heaters that emit no more than 2 grams of smoke per hour.

EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: States, green groups sue Trump over rollback of Obama fuel efficiency regulations | Oil lobby says low prices still hurting industry | Conservative group wants Trump to go further in rolling back key environmental law States, green groups sue Trump over rollback of Obama fuel efficiency regulations OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues MORE said in a statement that the new deadline would “give businesses an opportunity to recover sales that have been lost due to the coronavirus health crisis.”

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“More than 90 percent of manufacturers and retailers of wood heaters are small businesses, many of which have experienced significant losses in retail sales,” he said.

The Nov. 30 deadline has yet to be approved.

Products impacted by the rule include pellet stoves and forced-air furnaces. The agency said Friday that it is “unable to quantify” what the impacts of its proposal would be.

The move to extend the deadline is likely to be met with some criticism. Earlier this month, Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperMail ballot surge places Postal Service under spotlight Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens coronavirus funds for states easing voting MORE (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a letter to Wheeler that older residential wood heaters are a major source of air pollution.

“This pollution can trigger asthma attacks and is linked to lung damage, cancer and other significant health problems, including death,” Carper wrote. 

He also referenced a study that linked more exposure to air pollution to a greater risk of dying from COVID-19.

“Allowing Americans at this time to buy, and bring into their homes, wood heaters that may exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms is not a decision the agency should take lightly,” Carper added.