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Health, Science & Environment

Opposition to Proposed Winter Wood Burning Ban Heating Up

File: Lopi

National and local wood burning advocates are pushing back on the Utah Division of Air Quality’s proposed ban on any solid fuel burning between November 1st and March 15th

The coalition called Utahns for Responsible Burning has just launched its website and Facebook page. Its stated effort is to preserve the right to burn wood in Utah during the winter months. John Mortensen is co-chair of the group and sells wood stoves and fireplaces.

“The coalition is a group of individuals who are concerned about clean air just like everyone else,” says Mortensen.

He says they plan to promote a 2-stage burn program that’s already in place in Seattle, Denver and Albuquerque. He says it would exempt EPA-certified low-emission stoves and inserts from the burn ban except on mandatory no-burn days, also known as red air days.

“There are a lot of people, you know, that feel very connected to the fire. But I think in general most people are wanting to be law abiding citizens and follow the rules,” says Mortensen.

The Salt Lake County Health Department announced last week its own ban on wood burning on Voluntary Action Days. Dr. Royal DeLegge is the environmental health director for the county. He says the added restriction is important because burning solid fuels is just a dirty process.

“When you burn them, they give off a lot of particulate matter, both the course matter and the very fine matter,” says DeLegge.

The spokesman for the Virginia-based Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, John Crouch, says his organization plans on being an important part of the conversation during the public comment period. The Utah Division of Air Quality is taking comments on the Proposed Seasonal Wood Burning Ban now through February 9th.

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