Kingston Daily Freeman: Delay in outdoor boiler rules leads to lawsuit

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Published: Friday, May 20, 2011

By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE
Correspondent

A three-month delay in implementing more restrictive emission standards for outdoor wood boilers sold by retailers is being met with a lawsuit by the American Lung Association and two other groups but welcomed by the New York State Farm Bureau.

The legal challenge in state Supreme Court was announced in a press release from the American Lung Association, Environmental Advocates of New York and Earthjustice. The organizations contend rules that were to go into effect April 15 should not have been delayed until July 15 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“DEC, unexpectedly and without any notice to the public or opportunity for comment, delayed implementation of the pollution limits ... citing unsubstantiated economic reasons,” organization officials wrote.

Organization officials wrote that boilers purchased during the three-month period will be “spewing particulate and toxic air emissions for the next two decades.”

The organizations also noted that the number of boilers in New York increased from 606 units in 1999 to 2,640 in 2007.

“Considering that DEC spent three years consulting with stakeholders and the public to develop a rule limiting pollution from outdoor wood boilers, DEC’s failure even to mention the public health consequences of its abrupt decision to allow the continued sale of dirty boilers files in the face of reason,” said Earthjustice spokeswoman Hannah Chang.

New York State Farm Bureau spokesman Peter Gregg said the delay was needed because rules were adopted too quickly in December and left retailers with unsold boilers.

“We feel the commissioner’s decision to extend the deadline to July was totally reasonable and the right thing to do,” he said.

“There was not enough time for the manufacturers to build compliant units to sell in New York,” Gregg said. “Second, dealers across the state were left holding a huge inventory of non-compliant units that was really going to hurt their business.”

Gregg said the Department of Environmental Conservation “is actually being very slow in approving new models to be sold” by retailers.

“If they’re going to (implement new rules), at least give the manufacturers some time to build new compliant units and give the dealers some time to swap out their inventory with wood boilers they can actually sell,” he said.

Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Lori Severino said the agency would not comment on the lawsuit.

“Our main goal is to be protective of the environment and public health,” she said. “There are always parties that will not necessarily agree or do agree. We just have to work in complying with our goals.”