OWBs and the Clean Air Act

Air pollution laws and regulations, lawsuits, court decisions.

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OWBs and the Clean Air Act

Postby skybox » Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:39 pm

Has anyone here read Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (CAA)? Based on my interpretation the Administrator did not follow law with respect to OWBs. I would think OWBs would be considered a "new source" and should be regulated as such. Instead they came up with the "orange tag" program to avoid litigation with OWB manufacturers. Seems to me the EPA sold their soul to the devil at the expense of the thousands of people now exposed to 1.5 ton of PM each year per device.

Would be interested in others' comments about this.

Roger
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Postby woodburner » Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:54 pm

I don't think outdoor wood boilers are new devices. They are just becoming more popular.
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Postby skybox » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:20 pm

The EPA admits they missed the boat on OWBs with respect to developing regulations. They are considered a "new source" under the criteria of the CAA. (Section 111) From my perspective since the EPA did not govern these devices from their inception they have now gained a foothold in America. This being the case it makes it difficult politically to subsequently develop administrative rules to regulate emissions and installation standards. By publishing the “orange tag” program it gives the appearance of “taking action” but for all intent and purposes this was a mask to cover the Administrators (EPA Director) rear for failing to follow the intent of the law. The EPA markets the new compromise with manufactures as a faster way to bring relief to the environment and the public versus trying to regulate. However, in reality, if the EPA would have acted years ago as mandated by law we would not be having this conversation right now. The problem with environmental law is not many people understand it, and as such, the EPA and state agencies play on this ignorance to side-step accusations made against them.
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Postby skybox » Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:26 am

I have learned over the years not to be too quick in blaming any one political party for the cause or lack of progress on any particular issue this country faces. In the end either party will do what it takes to gain or sustain their power and have no difficulty "flipping" on an issue or side-stepping if they feel the votes are there.

Case and point: In Michigan we have a democratic governor and she selected the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). So I assume he's of the same political flavor as she. After doing extensive research on Michigan law, I found the following Act and promulgated Rule.

The Michigan Legislature enacted Public Act 451 to protect the environment and natural resources of this state and Section 324.5501 defines an “Air Contaminant” and “Air Pollution as”:

(a) “Air contaminant” means a dust, fume, gas, mist, odor, smoke, vapor, or any combination thereof.

(b) “Air pollution” means the presence in the outdoor atmosphere of air contaminants in quantities, of characteristics, under conditions and circumstances, and of a duration that are or can become injurious to human health or welfare, to animal life, to plant life, or to property, or that interfere with the enjoyment of life and property in this state.

The MDEQ has promulgated Rules from this statute as follows:

R 336.1116 - Definitions

(h) “Person” means any of the following:

1. An individual person.

Rule R 336.1901

Notwithstanding the provisions of any other department rule, a person shall not cause or permit the emission of an air contaminant or water vapor in quantities that cause, alone or in reaction with other air contaminants, either of the following:

(a) Injurious effects to human health or safety, animal life, plant life of significant economic value, or property.
(b) Unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property.


Michigan Legislators’ developed a statute giving the MDEQ power to protect the state from contaminates. As such the MDEQ promulgated Rule 901. The Rule is broad but its “plain English” meaning is quite clear. (Keep in mind this Rule 901 was made before OWBs became a problem) Nonetheless, the MDEQ has the power to not only regulate OWBs in this state but can also shut them down if a complaint can prove elements a & b of the Rule. As we all are aware on this forum there is now enough negative empirical knowledge available on OWBs for justification. The problem, however, is they will not enforce the Rule; they claim a lack of resources.

So the point of this long-winded response is “political affiliation” is not the cause of a lack of regulation at the Federal and State levels but political fallout is. As stated in my initial message, OWBs have gained a foothold and politicians of either party do not want to take a side on this issue. Perhaps if some lawyer could prevail in the courts by proving the EPA and State environmental agencies failed to protect citizens based on the health issues associated with OWBs we could get some relief. This matter, in my mind, is an “equal protection of the law” issue but it will take a persuasive attorney and some cash to triumph in court.

Roger
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Postby skybox » Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:28 am

I do want to make one more point. Anyone from Michigan who has a complaint against OWBs should still file a complaint with the MDEQ and use Rule 901 as your justification. The more people who do the better our chances of getting them to act.

Roger
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