September 13, 2017

Wood Stove and Heater Industry Petitions Congress for Regulatory Extension To Save Small Businesses

Three-year extension necessary to meet EPA deadline and avoid catastrophic losses to small businesses


Arlington, VA – Today the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) offered its support for the testimony of Frank Moore, President and owner of Hardy Manufacturing, who testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment in support of Relief from New Source Performance Standards Act (H.R. 453) to extend the deadline for complying with new emissions standards for woodburning appliances. HPBA represents all woodburning appliance manufacturers and retailers, most of whom are small businesses impacted by the EPA’s emissions standards for new residential wood and pellet stoves, hydronic heaters, and wood furnaces.

“I want to be clear: the industry supports federal standards for woodburning appliances. In fact, we petitioned the EPA to set national standards so that the industry would have uniformity and predictability, but we did not ask to be regulated out of business,” said Frank Moore, whose small company manufactures hydronic heaters, and HPBA representative at the subcommittee hearing.

“Thousands of U.S. manufacturing, distribution, and retail jobs are at risk without an extension. The industry supports federal standards for woodburning appliances to ensure regulatory uniformity, but without more time, many small businesses in our industry will be regulated out of existence. Rural communities that depend on our products both for heating homes and employing workers will be hard hit,” continued Moore.

The New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) rule for new residential wood and pellet stoves, hydronic heaters, and wood furnaces was finalized in 2015 and has two sets of standards. Manufacturers already have met the Step 1 standards. However, to meet Step 2 standards, manufacturers must research and develop new technologies, test them for durability, send them to an EPA lab for testing and approval, and then finally have their products certified by the EPA. To have these products in stores by the current Step 2 May 2020 deadline, the typical business cycle necessitates at least three years, meaning manufacturers currently need to complete the full process by summer 2018.

“For my product, meeting Step 1 of the NSPS meant about a 90% emission reduction for hydronic heaters. However, Step 2 standards are more stringent and demand a nearly 98% emission reduction by May 2020,” explained Moore. “Products not meeting Step 2 standards by May 2020 cannot be sold after that date. Manufacturers simply do not have enough time to research, test, and have their products certified by EPA as required by the 2020 deadline.”

With only five EPA-approved test labs, the industry faces a log jam getting products tested by EPA-approved labs. As the deadline gets closer, hundreds of appliances will need EPA testing and certification in a very short timeframe. There is not enough capacity to get through the process in time. Once a valid test by an approved lab is complete and a manufacturer receives a certificate of conformity, EPA must review the certification application, which can take more than 60 days if there are questions.

With no sell-through provisions to allow Step 1 products already at retailers on May 2020 to be sold while EPA approves new Step 2 products, the effects would be devastating to small businesses. Many companies, both large and small, already are laying off workers to divert capital necessary to fund the expensive research and development costs. With research and development costs ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 per product (plus an additional $20,000 fee per official laboratory test), companies are working to raise the capital needed to meet the new regulations with small companies being hit the hardest. For large companies that may have as many as 30 products, this investment could be more than $10 million.

Rural communities would be particularly hard hit. Many impacted businesses started in rural communities to provide residents with affordable heating options. And, many of the 6,500 manufacturing jobs dedicated to these products are located in rural communities. If small businesses close, those communities will lose jobs and be faced with fewer choices and higher prices when it comes to home heating. As new appliances become unaffordable or even unavailable, our nation’s air quality will suffer slower improvements as customers hold onto their older, higher-emitting appliances.

An extension not only provides manufacturers with equal opportunity and necessary access to testing labs, but also would ensure stability in the retailer market, an important staple to healthy local economies. Additional time will allow for the continued development of more efficient and reliable woodburning hydronic heaters, wood and pellet stoves, and wood furnaces for American homes.

HPBA and its members have been long-time champions of woodburning product innovation through more efficient and cleaner burning technology. Biomass, such as wood, is an important renewable home heating option. HPBA takes every opportunity to ensure the general public has a wide variety of woodburning appliances available.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), based just outside of Washington, DC, is the North American industry association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives, service firms, and allied associates for all types of fireplace, stove, heater, barbecue, and outdoor living appliances and accessories. HPBA provides professional member services and industry support in government relations, events, market research, education, certifications, consumer education, and industry promotion.

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Media Contact: Mary Ellen Akins, 540-229-4505, akins@hpba.org

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