State considers banning wood burning from November 1 to March 15

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Division of Air Quality will travel the Wasatch Front and beyond asking for public opinion before they decide if they will ban nearly all wood burning between November 1st and March 15th.

The reason: wood burning emits particulate pollution at a far greater rate than equivalent amounts of energy expended in modern automobile engines, industrial plants and other contributors to the infamous annual inversion in Utah’s most populous Northern Valleys.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Erin Mendenall, a Salt Lake City Council Member who serves on the Air Quality Board.

Mendenhall got involved with politics as a clean air advocate. She said her biggest concern is the potential for low income residents to suffer.

“I want to hear from families who can’t afford heating,” said Mendenhall, saying she hoped to advertise programs that provide assistance to such families to pay for heat.

John Mortenson with Energy Distribution Systems told the Board a rule banning wood burning will severely harm businesses like his that specialize in wood stoves and fireplaces.

“To be asked to give 100 percent compliance to a complete burn ban is not reasonable,” said Mortenson, “I think a balanced and proportionate measure would be more appropriate."

The proposed rule has exemptions built in for residents who rely solely on wood burning for heat. It also exempts ski resorts, condos, and other buildings above the inversion layer, and restaurants and other businesses that rely on wood-burning for their food preparation.

The Air Quality Board voted unanimously to hold public meetings in each of the seven counties that would be impacted if the rule went into effect.

The full proposal presented to the air quality board can be read here. [PDF]



  • Elizabeth

    This is the most intrusive proposal to our individual freedoms I have ever heard! I use my fire for mood enhancer, family gatherer, warmth, light, energy, and sustenance. Fire is one of the four elements of my belief system and is fundamental to human society, always, has, been. The Parsees and their Zoroastrian religion have holy fire, and pray only when a fire is lit. Will you ban your Temples? I suspect, although I know of know studies, that gazing into a fire would also impact Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Think of your fondest, warmest moments and I suggest they involve a fire, if not you’re missing out on one of life greatest gifts. Banning fire is on par with banning bathing – this is !@#& ridiculous.

  • Stevie Wright

    With the price of gas rising, my heat comes from a fireplace. It is to expensive to run a furnace during the winter time. With a tight budget it is better to build a fire and my family doesn’t freeze keeping the furnace at 68 degrees.

  • Mr. Keys

    This concernes me greatly. I use wood for heating my home. We set the tempreture at 68 degrees and the furnace never comes on because of the fireplace. I also use Solar heating when the sun is in the sky by opening my blinds. We have used wood burning heat for years which has saved us hundreds of dollars on our energy costs. If there is a red day and it isn’t super cold, we will use the furnace otherwise we burn wood. To make a blanket statement that “all wood burning fireplaces are not to be used during the late fall and winter months” is in itself unrealistic. If Erin Mendenhall is willing to pay for everyone that can’t afford a furnace or the electric heating bill, then sure she can use her own money to do that. Don’t start a “government” program to “help” the poor and needy by creating a financial burden on those of us that use wood because we are already struggling to make ends meet. She can pay for the bill herself, but realistically, no way is she going to. If I have to rely on the government, local or national, then I become part of the problem of wanting handouts and in no way do I want someone else’s money. I work hard, my wife works hard for what we have and this is just a slap in the face. Heating is a major concern for many. In my area there are only 2 homes that have wood heating. How much of the problem is it really when the fireplace is not going every day 24/7 vs the pollution of vehicles, industry etc that are?

    Instead of “no fire burning” during the time frame Erin Mendenhall may want to invest in helping those of us that use them to create some type of secondary burn mechanism or scrubber for the fireplace to help air quality.

    Mr. Keys

  • Bill Buchanan

    I am wondering, who are Ms Mendenhall, an elected representative, our govenor, and our legislature actually representing? Businesses are exempted to enhance their profits, but I won’t be allowed to heat my home with wood to lower my utilities expense? Whose interests do they really represent? Is part of their agenda to punish home owners because they are less vocal than businesses? I only burn wood when its very cold, but businesses are allowed to burn wood whenever to increase their profits? When there’s a serious power outage due to a winter storm, which is not uncommon, am I going to have to break the law to keep my children warm? I use an EPA certified low emission stove. Does that not count for something?

  • Evan

    So we have been warned and warned an earth quake is coming. Do you think we will have power and natural gas to our houses when this hits. Now take away our only source of heat if the quake happens in the winter???? You people that are for this are idiots. Don’t come knocking on my door when your freezing

  • Ted White

    Leave us alone!!! My family has lived in Utah for generations. We have always had inversions during the cold months. Why don’t you legislate that mother nature can not have any more temperature inversions during the cold months. Or better yet require all individuals that drive cars to justify why they need to drive instead of walking from 1 November to 1 March. Have the police set up check points to make sure we are not driving around to stay warm. When everyone stops driving carbon emission generating vehicles I will stop burning wood.

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