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Wood Burning Industry Applauds HB 396 While Air Quality Adovates Boo

File: Delta Disaster Services

Among the bills Governor Gary Herbert signed into law earlier this week is HB 396, which prevents the Utah Department of Environmental Quality from placing a season-long ban on wood burning.

While the fireplace and wood stove industry praises the governor’s action, clean air advocates seem to be in a state of shock. Dr. Brian Moench is president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He says they are confused and very disappointed in the governor’s failure to veto the bill.

“For multiple reasons we think this is one of the worst bills,” says Moench, “maybe THE worst bill that came out of the session this year.” 

Moench says the legislation was written by the wood burning industry and ignored the will of the majority to have cleaner air. He says his group and other air quality advocates will continue with efforts to educate the public on the harmful effects of wood burning, especially on children.

“Wood smoke is uniquely toxic, it’s emitted right where people spend most of their time, and it penetrates the homes of everyone in the vicinity more easily than almost any other type of pollution because to particles are so small…even smaller than particles from tailpipes,” Moench says.

John Mortensen is one of the leaders of Utahns for Responsible Burning, which lobbied for HB 396. He said in a statement that without the threat of a ban “Utah is pursuing a common-sense solution that protects responsible burning and preserves basic freedoms.” 

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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