New York's Department of Environmental Conservation begins hearings this week on tough new regulations for outdoor wood boilers. And the action has smoke and steam pouring out the ears of farmers and rural landowners.
"DEC's decision on restricting the use of outdoor wood boilers will literally impact thousands of farmers and rural landowners across the state," predicts New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. "It's like the government telling you that you have to switch out your farm truck for a hybrid-electric car, but you have to pay for it yourself. It doesn't make sense."
"Rural New Yorkers have been heating their homes with wood since the first Dutch settlers came up the Hudson," Norton said. "We all know it gets extremely cold in New York and DEC's actions will just drive residents back to using costly oil heat - leaving a much cleaner renewable resource unused."
The proposed regulations will significantly impact farm and rural homeowners that heat houses, barns and greenhouses. Existing outdoor wood boilers would be forced to retrofit costly smokestacks to meet new height requirements. The use season would be limited to almost half of the year. Use of boilers not meeting strict DEC emissions requirements would be prohibited.
DEC also has a short list of permissible wood products for burning. It prohibits newer technologies which would allow burning of animal carcasses, manure and construction debris. Setbacks from property lines vary from 100 feet for residential outdoor boilers to 300 feet in residential zones for commercial wood-fired boilers.
DEC also proposes new smoke stack height requirements and summertime use prohibitions that will make the regulations, as drafted, unworkable, contends Farm Bureau. Many families have turned to outdoor wood boilers as a more affordable choice in the face of high heating oil and natural gas prices.
For New York Farm Bureau's summary of the proposed regulations, click on summary of the new proposed regulations .
Hearings run from 6 to 8 p.m. Information sessions will be held an hour before the start of all hearings.
Thurs., June 3: Dulles State Office Building, 1st Floor Auditorium, 317 Washington Street, Watertown.
Mon., June 7: NYSDEC-Region 1, SUNY @ Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook.
Tues., June 8: NYSDEC Central Office, 625 Broadway, Public Assembly Room 129, Albany.
Wed., June 9: Rockland County Fire Training Center, 35 Fireman's Memorial Drive, Pomona.
Thurs., June 10: Herkimer County Community College, Robert McLaughlin College Center, Hummel Corporate Center, 100 Reservoir Road, Herkimer.
Mon., June 14: Genesee Community College, College Drive, Conable Technology Building, Room T102, Batavia.
Tues., June 15: Cortland County Office Building, 2nd Floor Auditorium, 60 Central Avenue, Cortland.
Wed., June 16: Allegany County Office Building, Legislative Board Chambers, 7 Court Street, Belmont.
Thurs., June 17: Jamestown Community College, Training Center, Room 117, 10785 Bennett Road (Route 60), Dunkirk.
Mon., June 21: Norrie Point Environmental Center, Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park, 256 Norrie Point Way, Staatsburg.
Wed., June 23: Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main Street, Saranac Lake.