Oregon Joins Lawsuit Against EPA Over Wood Stoves, Leaving Alaskans Annoyed

An Alaska winter sunset. (Credit: Ward M. Clark)

In a recent (and successful) attempt to personally annoy the rest of the country, Oregon's Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum is joining nine other state AGs in suing the Environmental Protection Agency to toughen regulations on wood stoves.

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The complaint, filed late last week, alleges both that the federal agency’s current standards aren’t good enough and that the agency’s wood-stove testing and certification program fails to ensure that new wood-burning stoves comply with the emission limits.

The lawsuit seeks to have the federal agency institute and enforce new standards for residential wood heaters to decrease emissions. 

The use of wood stoves for home heating was widely popular during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 12.5 million homes in the U.S. continue to use wood stoves – as well as other wood-burning devices such as fireplaces – for home heating, because they’re affordable, create constant warmth and look cozy.

No doubt Ms. Rosenblum is growing bored, as the state of Oregon and several of its major cities are well in hand, leaving the AG's office with nothing better to do - except, maybe, deal with these things:

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Oregon has, in fact, dealt with this issue already:

Oregon law requires the removal and destruction of uncertified wood stoves and fireplace inserts when a home is sold. If a stove or insert is certified by the EPA to meet wood-smoke emission standards, it can remain in the home – but that certification may mean little, given the allegations in the lawsuit.

So, if the wood stove issue is solved to Oregonians' satisfaction, why does Ms. Rosenblum - who, I remind one and all, clearly has nothing better to do - feel the need to join a lawsuit demanding nationwide standards for wood stoves? 

This flies in the face of one of the republic's founding principles, federalism. Each state is meant to be its own laboratory of liberty because what works for Massachusetts won't work for Wyoming, and what works for Oregon won't work for Alaska.

Recently, I've documented some issues Alaska is currently having with Washington, D.C., and this wood stove issue, as my colleague Streiff observed some time ago, has been ongoing for a while. The hard truth is this: Alaska has a population of 736,081, as of the 2020 census, over half of whom live in the Anchorage bowl. The rest of us, especially those of us who live out in the woods -- and over an area large enough to swallow up Texas, California, and Montana combined -- depend in large part on our wood stoves, using locally cut firewood and plenty of it. We don't have problems with air pollution, smoke, particulate, or anything else. There's just too much land and too few people for it to be an issue here.

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The EPA won't take these differences into account. Washington won't take these differences into account. That's why the republic was set up the way it was; government that governs least governs best, and to be responsive, government functions should be carried out by elected officials as close to the individual citizens as possible.

Speaking as RedState's most popular Alaskan (also RedState's only Alaskan), I can say to AG Rosenblum and the EPA, "Thanks, no." I predict that these efforts, however they end up, will be roundly ignored by people not only in Alaska but also in places like Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, where there are more trees than people. Oregon can mind their own wood stoves as it suits them. We'll do the same. Everybody -- well except Oregon's seemingly bored AG and some other bothersome busybodies -- will be happy.

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