To: Rep. McKell, M.,
Subject: Wood Burning Limitation: A Better Solution
Concern about banning all wood burning fireplaces:
I am a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at BYU and I have heard that there Gov. Herbert has proposed a ban on wood burning through the Winter months, with exception of those that depend on wood burning to supply their primary heating.
I have several logical concerns that should be considered:
1. What % of the pollution would be improved by such a ban? No numbers have been given (although I have heard numbers in the 1% and less range), but I suspect that it is negligible when compared to other sources. Thus, my interpretation is that this is a political move, probably meant to improve relations with certain U.S. government entities, encourage money flow, or improve relations with social interest groups. It will backfire on the governor, as he will see. I expect intelligent moves from my governor, not politically motivated moves.
2. I purchased an expensive EPA stove to minimize such pollution, thus am not excited about the ban. This stove is only used occasionally, as will others in similar circumstances.
3. This law will penalize many who have tried to follow the law and reward those who create much of the pollution, though they may need wood burning for sustainment.
4. Would it not be better to create financial assistance to install gas heating for those that don’t have such systems in place. Generally, their homes are smaller, and once a gas system is installed, the monthly bill would not be that high. You can install propane systems in hard to reach (rural) homes, or consider alternative energy sources. This is the “low hanging fruit” mentioned in some of the local publications and arguments. There are certain expenses to obtaining wood that may be higher than you think. Penalizing the more adaptable citizens is not a wise solution.
5. HERE IS YOUR SOLUTION: Why not propose a gas tax increase to raise assistance funds for gas heating installation in homes that currently depend on wood burning. Is this not a better “political” solution, rather than a punitive approach? It will be received well if presented well. Most citizens will view this as a good solution, one of concern for neighbors.
6. Obviously, you are going to penalize, and practically eliminate, the economies of wood burning fire systems, including whole-sellers and retailers, and all builders who install such systems, mostly all our builders.
Gov. Herbert is making a serious mistake here, and one not well thought out. Utah has always had inversions, long before people densely populated the valleys. I realize that the state is trying to minimize the additive effects due to people, but punishing a few is not a great solution.
Ed Red, Professor
Mechanical Engineering, BYU