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New wood boiler regs passed

DEC rules for cleaner heaters have some fired up

After months of controversy, the Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted the first statewide regulations governing the use of outdoor wood boilers, much to the chagrin of some farmers and rural homeowners who have come to embrace the alternative heat source.

The new regulations, which will take effect near the end of January, will primarily affect new boilers. The DEC is imposing new emission limits that it says will ensure new boilers burn at least 90 percent cleaner than older models.

DEC spokesperson Lori Severino said these new regulations are actually far less stringent than what the department had originally conceived. When the review process began earlier this year, the intent was to require a phasing out of older boilers for newer, cleaner ones, and to put seasonal limitations on when boilers could be operated.

We limited the earlier proposal significantly, just because of the amount of comments we received, Severino said.

She added the department would be reexamining regulations for existing boilers in 2011.

Those who had originally opposed the restrictions did not find their disagreement sated by a more limited ruling, though. The New York Farm Bureau has long been speaking against any regulations.

"These regulations come at a time when fuel oil prices are skyrocketing and with a harsh winter forecast," said bureau President Dean Norton after the decision. "The public outcry against DEC over the past week should have convinced them that trying to push these regulations through at the last minute before a new administration takes office is completely disingenuous."

He vowed the bureau would continue to fight against further restrictions.

In addition to the emissions standards, the regulations also require a minimum setback of 100 feet from property lines for wood boilers and place an 18-foot minimum smokestack height, both requirements that are designed to keep smoke away from neighbors. More stringent limits will also be placed on fuel sources, outlawing sources other than clean wood and wood pellets.

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