A bill restricting uncertified wood stoves at least 20 years old in parts of Pierce County will not have an impact on stoves in Clallam County.
State legislators who passed the bill earlier this month said it was necessary to address air pollution problems in parts of Pierce County.
Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, co-sponsored the bill.
The bill allows a local air pollution control authority or the state Department of Ecology to call a Stage One burn ban at a lower threshold than the federal standard when air pollution reaches certain levels.
The burn ban would prohibit people who have other adequate sources of heat from using any uncertified wood-heating devices, according to a Senate bill report. The bill specifically exempts residents for
whom the stove, insert or fireplace is the sole source of heat.
Pete Church-Smith, chairman of the FourC’s Government Oversight Committee, expressed concerns about the bill in a recent newsletter. He said the bill surrendered private property rights to the discretion of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and could result in the government removing or destroying people’s wood stoves.
He questioned whether elected officials in Olympia or Washington, D.C., are familiar with the way of life on the Olympic Peninsula.
State Reps. Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, issued a statement decrying “fear-mongering” over the air quality measure.
“There is absolutely zero threat of government coming into people’s homes and taking away their wood stoves. I repeat: zero,” Van De Wege said. “But without this bill passing, there are very serious health and economic threats for Pierce County, which is a major economic center for our state. Federal regulations would prohibit industries from locating or expanding in the area and that means loss of jobs. Nobody wants that.”
Tharinger said Pierce County is the only county in the state facing the air pollution problems addressed by the bill.
State Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, also voted for the bill. He added amendments to the bill including specifying the law would only apply to areas of non-attainment (of safe levels) or areas at risk of non-attainment because of high air pollution.