ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Farm Bureau recently blasted the Department of Environmental Conservation for trying a last minute maneuver to enact a new set of regulations that restrict the use of outdoor wood boilers for farmers and residents in rural New York.
DEC scheduled a meeting of the Environmental Review Board Dec. 22 to approve restrictive new wood boiler regulations. At a meeting of the Environmental Review Board earlier this fall, DEC officials pledged to hold additional public hearings on the measure, but none have been scheduled.
According to the law, new hearings must be scheduled on this issue, due to the major changes in the proposed regulation from previous versions.
“We were told by DEC officials in October that there would be a new round of public comment before enacting a set of revised wood boiler regulations,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. “We took them at their word, which apparently was a mistake. If these regulations are approved under these circumstances, NYFB will be exploring possible legal remedies to the situation.”
“This is a case of the more radical elements in DEC trying to shove these regulations through a week before a new governor takes office,” said Norton. “Meanwhile, fuel oil prices are soaring and a cold winter lies ahead.”
Ironically, DEC’s move comes the same week that Gov. Paterson issued an executive order claiming that new regulations affecting agriculture would undergo a thorough review.
In October, DEC released new proposed changes to the regulations on outdoor wood boilers that would prove major and costly, and will make it harder to use outdoor wood boilers as a heating option for many rural New Yorkers.
DEC is calling for a chimney stack height of 18 feet to be mandatory on all boilers by Oct. 1, 2011. Stacks of that height would be costly to install, and dangerous in some areas of New York where high winds are common.
DEC is also proposing to prohibit the use of boilers in Northern New York between June 1 and Aug. 31, meaning owners will not be able to heat water with boilers in those months, forcing them to use conventional, non-renewable fossil fuel-burning equipment.
It’s worse for residents in the southern half of the state, where the ban will take place between May 15 and Sept. 30. If passed, the proposed regulations will have significant financial implications for farm and rural homeowners that heat their houses, barns and greenhouses.