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A subcommittee of the Utah County Commission on Clean Air is recommending that a fee be established for all wood stoves and fireplaces that do not meet certain criteria.

The residential-burning work group has prepared a final version of recommendations for reducing wood smoke pollution in the county. The commission will vote on the recommendations at its January meeting, said Scott Bean, member of the work group.The revised plan outlines recommendations, conditions under which the recommendations are to be enforced, benefits that will be achieved by the recommendation, any exemptions that will be allowed and enforcement procedures.

"The EPA and state were demanding that we specifically itemize how we would do what we were proposing to do," Bean said. "We were under mandate to give conditions and benefits but also to show how it would take place."

The recommendation to establish annual fees for wood stoves and fireplaces is an addition to the group's previous plans. The proposed fee for wood stoves is $10 and the proposed fee for fireplaces is $5.

The recommendation allows for an exemption to the fee requirement for: stoves and fireplaces that are the sole sources of heat for more than 50 percent of a building, stoves that meet EPA source performance standards of 7.5 grams of smoke per hour, and for individuals living outside a 10-mile radius of either the Lindon or Provo fine-particulate-pollution monitor and living in a city with a population of less than 2,500 or above an altitude of 6,500 feet.

Exemptions must be applied for and obtained before a no-burn period, the document says.

"Other communities have implemented emissions fees," Bean said. "An emissions fee is essentially a user fee. It helps people understand air is a natural resource and there are costs associated with putting pollutants into the air. Ours is not the first community that is proposing these ordinances or that has this in place. Nor is the fee exorbitant."

Fee money would be used to fund additional manpower needs of the Health Department and will be dispersed to cities actively participating in enforcement of recommendations.

Bean said an exemption for complying with recommendations was allowed for those living outside the 10-mile radius and in cities with less than 2,500 residents because the air-quality problem is not as great in such areas.

Another change in the final version of recommendations is that a ban on burning of coal has been dropped. Instead, coal is included in the burning ban of solid fuels during inversions.

"We had enough objections to the mandatory ban on coal that we backed off that recommendation," Bean said. "We finally decided we ought to place coal in the same category as wood or any other fuel."


(Additional information)

Clearing the air

Major components of the final version of recommendations for dealing with wood smoke pollution in Utah County are:

1. Adopt mandatory no-burn policy during thermal inversions.

Exemptions: When the appliance is the sole source of heat for more than 50 percent of a building; meets EPA performance standards; or is outside a 10-mile radius of either the Lindon or Provo monitor and in a city with less than 2,500 residents or where the home is located above 6,500 feet.

Enforcement: Staff person at Health Department will investigate complaints about non-compliance. First violation will result in a warning; second and subsequent violations will result in $50 fine.

2. Establish a fee for all existing wood stoves and fireplaces.

Conditions: The fee would be $10 per wood stove and $5 per fireplace per home, paid annually.

Exemptions: Same as in recommendation No. 1.

Enforcement: Assessment on county property tax notices.

3. Ban the retail sale of high-moisture wood and allow private harvesting of wood only from March 1 to Sept. 15.

Conditions: Implement along the Wasatch Front and require retailers to cure or otherwise ensure the moisture content of the wood is below designated levels.

Enforcement: County ordinance would require all vendors to submit and pay for moisture content testing of a random sample of their wood. Permits will be issued to vendors meeting standard.