Carper, Murkowski Introduce Bill to Help Americans Transition to More Efficient Wood Heaters, Reduce Air Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR), introduced a bill (S. 3779) that would establish a grant program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to incentivize the removal and replacement of old, inefficient residential wood heaters with efficient, clean-burning heaters. The Wood Heaters Emissions Reduction Act (WHERA) reduces toxic air pollution, protects public health, and supports the expansion of American jobs. WHERA also requires that Indian tribal and rural communities are fairly represented in funding allocations.

Specifically, the Wood Heaters Emissions Reduction Act would:

  • Authorize $75 million for each fiscal year 2019 through 2024 for an EPA grant program that incentives households to change-out their old wood heaters for cleaner burning stoves.  Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 11.5 million homes use wood as a primary or secondary heat source, 58 percent of those homes are found in rural areas. It is estimated that 6 million residential wood heaters in operation today do not meet 1988 EPA Clean Air Act emission standards, much less the emissions standards implemented in 2015.
  • Replace old wood heaters with new, efficient heaters and encourage the recycling of old heaters. Creates a voluntary program to replace older wood stoves with new, efficient, cleaner burning and properly installed heaters that at least meet EPA’s most stringent wood heater emission standards.
  • Require funds to be made available to Indian tribes. EPA would make available no less than 4 percent of the funds for Indian tribes to use for maintenance and installation of the new stoves. The bill also directs EPA to use public educational outreach to develop incentives and consult Indian tribes to promote the replacement of old, inefficient wood heaters.
  • Result in cleaner air. Older, inefficient residential wood heaters can produce a deadly mix of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, black carbon and air toxics such as benzene and formaldehyde. EPA has determined that replacing just one old, inefficient wood heater is equivalent to taking five dirty diesel engines off the road and the monetized public health benefits from replacing the nation’s old, inefficient residential wood heaters would be up to $126 billion per year.

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