Harsh words expressed toward DAQ, governor during wood burning public meetings

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OGDEN, Utah -- The Utah Division of Air Quality held two more public hearings on its proposed wood burning ban Tuesday.

If approved, residents in seven counties in northern Utah would be prohibited from burning wood next winter season between Nov. 1 and March 15. Residents who rely on wood as a sole source of heat would be exempt from the restriction as well as homes above 7,000 feet in elevation.

During the hearings in Brigham City and Ogden, harsh words were at times directed towards DAQ and Gov. Gary Herbert.

Those speaking out against the ban greatly outnumbered those in favor.

Three more public hearings are set to take place in Cache, Davis, and Utah counties. Comments may also be sent to the Division of Air Quality via email.

The following meetings will take place at:

· 4 p.m., Jan. 21: Logan Historic Courthouse, 199 N. Main St., Council Chambers, Logan

· 10 a.m., Jan. 28: Davis County Administration Building, 61 S. Main St., Farmington

· 11 a.m., Jan. 29: Utah County Health Department, 151 S. University Ave., Room 1600

You may submit written comments via email to mberger@utah.gov., or mail to: Mark Berger, DAQ, P.O. Box 144820, 195 North 1950 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114.

30 comments

  • jmaher

    I wish the media would give more details on the coverage of these meetings. It seems like we have a lot of unhappypeople in the state about this proposed ban. Only fox13 covered the last two meetings…but barely…this is an important topic…I wish there were more media coverage.

  • Kent

    I was there for the whole meeting and only two people were for the bad out of hundreds and who does Fox show on the news this morning, the one young lady that was for ban and was obviously a student completing a school assignment. I’m sure she did not have a dog in the fight and was just getting extra credit. There were many great and thoughtful comments stating the foolishness of any permanent ban. I thought Fox might not take the low road and would report honestly, 2 for ban and 200-300 against is a lot more than “greatly outnumbered” in any statistical analysis.

  • derecha

    First of all, this ban is being proposed by the Governor, DAQ has just been tasked to look at it. I am not in favor of this ban, but we also have to look at it from a rational perspective, rather than just making comments using idle threats, which many of the commenters make. Burning wood, especially during inversion times is really one of the last uncontrolled sources of pollution in the air. Although it is only 5% of the particulate count, it still can be reduced and that is why it is being looked at. Industry creates about 11% of the air pollution. However, they are highly regulated, watched over, and have permits. Without industry, we would be without some of the jobs in the area for the millions that live along the Wasatch Front. A good portion of the remainder of the air problems are from ourselves, as citizens. Mostly from the vehicles we drive. Again, these are being controlled to a certain extent through emissions testing. But, if we want our air to get better, we all need to do our part. Everybody cries and whines and wants DAQ to do their job with industry and it almost sounds like they want industry to be shut down completely. But now that the proposal touches home to a direct cause of the air pollution and it happens to affect people directly because they have “freedoms”, they are out in hoards to oppose it. What they don’t realize is that their “right” to burn wood directly affects many people who have health issues. I have a friend that can sense any time there is smoke in the air because of problems he has with his lungs. It might be smoke from a summer fire, from fire works, or even a neighbors fire place. It doesn’t matter to him because he just has a hard time breathing. Because we live in such a densely populated area, that has a geographic condition that causes our air to get really bad, especially in the winter, we all should look at ourselves and ask if we are doing our part to help. Are we part of the solution or part of the problem and are we so hell bent on our “freedoms” and “rights” that we infringe upon others “freedoms and rights” as well?

    • Momma2

      Derecha,
      There are quite a few people in rural areas who are direct affected by this ban. I know I’ll get fought against this, but maybe your friend needs to move. Coastal areas are great for people with lung issues. People need to realize they live in a bowl of mountains and no matter what you do, there will always be air problems

      • derecha

        Momma2, like I said, I am against the ban. I think there are better solutions, even if that means that people who do burn are required to use the higher efficiency wood burning stoves. You do realize that this ban only applies to the areas in Northern Utah that already don’t meet current air quality standards. Not many of those areas are very rural right now (Except for Cache Valley).

    • Brad Peterson

      Actually the head of the DAQ has stated if he had his way he would ban all fireplaces. It doesn’t help that the Air Quality Board has two stereotypical liberal environmentalist activists but no representation from the average home owner. It also doesn’t help that I forced the DEQ to remove incorrect statements on their blog after they wrongly tried to claim EPA stoves pollute more than regular fireplaces. Internally they want a ban, despite overwhelming opposition. This is becoming classic example of an out of touch government, where they want to tell us what they want, rather than listening to us and working with us.

      I get what the goal is. The EPA says we have to average about 35 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 pollution on our worst days. And right now we’re at about 40, not 35. The DAQ’s hope is if you ban fireplaces, that number drops from 40 to around 39. Maaaaybe 38, though that’s not likely.

      Most of us at the meeting last night in Ogden would agree that we’re happy to hold off burning on inversion days. The only issue is people burning on days they shouldn’t. Those of us that just bought an EPA fireplace to do our part now feel betrayed. The government up until at least last year encouraged us to buy these appliances to improve pollution (in fact, the EPA still does), and we do, then they turn around and suggest banning them. What we’re saying is “If it’s a unrestricted burn day, fireplaces don’t harm neighbors or attainment. And if everyone switched to EPA fireplaces, then even on inversion days if people burned when they shouldn’t we’d only make up less than 1% of the pollution.” That’s a reasonable solution. But the DAQ seems to want none of that.

      • derecha

        Yes, its a tough thing. I think an all out ban is wrong, using the EPA stoves and only requiring non-burning on red days should be the compromise. For some, burning is very important and it shouldn’t be restricted. For some, It would be equivalent to a complete driving ban during the winter months, which would create an enormous benefit to the air quality, but it will never happen.

    • Ken

      I agree we need to control burning, which we already do! red green days!! but to ban it completely for the whole season is so wrong. We need to not burn during inversions! not a date, last I checked the weather doesn’t care what day it is. We need to watch the weather, not burn when we have inversions. thus “controlled”. not that hard people!!

      • Ken

        also, one more thing about the news showing the minority in what the public really wants! its so frustrating that the government is not even listening to what the majority wants here, and its such a landslide Herbert should pull this off the books right now, unless he does NOT support the people he is elected to represent!!!!!!!!

    • Nicole

      Deercha-
      I’m in Box Elder County, one of the areas that will be affected by this ban. Get out of Brigham City, and the rest of Box Elder County is indeed, very rural. So your confidence that only Cache Valley is rural, well, it’s wrong. Deweyville, Elwood. Mantua, Portage- hardly places that I would call thriving, urban citites. Our county has a population of nearly 50K, but only about half of that population actually lives in Brigham City. The rest live in one of the other several communities. So sorry, once again, you’re just wrong.

      I am very disappointed in the coverage of this as well. We had the public forum here yesterday and I couldn’t even get in the building. I was told that the building coordinator didn’t even want to let the forum be held at the health department because the room it was in can legally only accomadate 100 people. But he was pretty much overruled and it was advertised that the meeting would be there, so they kind of had no choice. I was shocked when I heard the meeting was going to be held at the health department because I know how small those conference rooms are. So when I went yesterday, I was not surprised that I had to park 6 blocks away to find a spot. There were hundreds of people there- more than just 300 dissenters. And I could not find a single person that approves of this. Complaints ranged from people who use wood burning stoves as an alternative rather than their main source to offset the costs of a high gas and utility bill, to those angry that people who are not even elected to office making the rules, to others wondering how this ordinance can even be implemented and the dangers of turning neighbor against neighbor., to others wondering why all these public forums are being held at times of the day when those that will be most effected are at work. I tried to find someone that approves of this- couldn’t. Not even the state reps that were there think that this is a good idea. They had a statement sent outside to those who couldn’t get in that they wanted it on record that they don’t approve of this.

  • kismekate

    I wonder how many of these policy makers are in the pockets of the mighty gas Corps.. how many of them will make a million from consumers forced to use gas instead. . Seams a good way to make some extra cash for them. Drive the market and you control the market.

    • derecha

      Kismekate, These are the kinds of comments I am talking about. Rather than coming up with reasonable solutions, all you are doing is insulting people that are in a very tough position right now. On one side, they have the EPA breathing down their necks, telling them to get a problem solved and on the other side they have the public hating them for every proposed action.

      • kismekate

        I certainly appreciate your opinion in the fact that you are able to express it freely. Whether i agree with it or not

  • Ken

    Really?! I agree we should all try to do better. The inversions have been here forever, the government is picking low hanging fruit, 5% at most, yet projections are that the population in the valley will double in the next 15-20 years….so lets be realistic unless you stop building homes, stop growth, make businesses let people work from home, ban cars during the winter absolutely nothing will change. This just makes the government feel warm and fuzzie and they can say they did something. Come on folks pull your heads out of the sand,.

    • Brad Peterson

      As much as I don’t like the DAQ right now, I try to understand where they are coming from.

      They aren’t wanting to ban just for the sake of a ban. The problem is the federal government says we have to meet a certain level of pollution on our worst inversion days. We’re close. So Utah has to prove how they will get under the pollution limit. When the DAQ looks at all the sources out there, from their point of view banning fireplaces sounds to be one of the easiest ways to get closer to getting under the limit. To them it looks like low hanging fruit. And fireplaces aren’t perfectly healthy, they’re kind of like drinking soft drinks, riding a motorcycle. It works, it’s nice, but it comes with a slightly higher risk. So what happened was the EPA said to clean up the air, the governor’s environmental advisor is adamantly opposed to all fireplaces, strangely Herbert has fully bought on, and the DAQ has to ask for public comments on this.

      However the problem is that one wood smoke study found it was only 5% of the pollution in the air on bad air days. The DAQs in house simulations suggest it’s only 2% of the pollution (figures from Kerry Kelly at the U of U). And people LOVE their fireplaces. They fight for it like they’ll fight for their guns. Nobody is going to take that away from them. Further, EPA stoves emit far less pollution than normal fireplaces. So while fireplaces look like low hanging fruit, it’s definitely not. (I think a reasonable solution can be to give normal fireplaces a 5-10 year sundown window, afterwards the law insists EPA stoves only. Smoky normal fireplaces aren’t healthy for neighbors with sensitive health. And that would still get you most of the reduction the DAQ wants while giving people time to prepare for the change)

      The second problem is nobody really knows what a “no burn day” is. I did a survey to check on this. Almost nobody knows there’s an alternate burn rating system (it’s not the green/yellow/red system). So it may be a green day and also a no burn day. But almost nobody realizes this. And if you educate them about the alternate burn rating system, the information is so hard to find that almost nobody can find it unless they’re trained on it. The DAQ has totally failed in this area. If they want people avoid burning on no burn days, they only have themselves to blame right now.

  • Gordon

    To me the proposed ban of wood burning from November to March in seven northern Utah Counties is an OFF the WALL solution to only 4% of the problem. We have the same problem in the summer months when wood stoves and fireplaces are not in use.
    Example of a 4% Solution: If you took the total population from Box Elder, Cache, Weber, Tooele, Davis, and Utah Counties which is approximately 1,340,969 people and then take 4% of them, which would equate to 53,639 people. Take those 53,639 individuals, which have an average bladder size of 600 ml or 0.1585 gallons, for a total of 8,502 gallons of urine, and have them all deposit this into the Great Salt Lake at the same time. Would this case area flooding in the Salt Lake Valley? I don’t think so and this wood burning ban would give you the same results.
    I think that the problem lies elsewhere: Outside fine particles primarily come from single occupant in vehicles, (cars and trucks on the freeways and the congestion in the big cities) buses and off-road vehicles (e.g., construction equipment, Truck Stops, drive up windows, locomotive) exhausts, and industrial emissions around the Salt Lake Valley are the biggest causes of this inversion. Operations that involve the burning of forest and grass fires and agriculture fields play a significant roll during the summer. PM2.5 is also produced by common indoor activities. Some indoor sources of fine particles are tobacco smoke, cooking (e.g., frying, sautéing, and broiling), burning candles or oil lamps, and operating fireplaces and fuel-burning space heaters (e.g., kerosene heaters).
    The Air Monitoring System located in Brigham City is not getting a TRUE sample of the air quality in Box Elder County. This monitor is located within a block of: Pizza Plus, McDonalds, Taco Time, Arby’s, J & D’s Family Restaurant, Wendy’s, Hua Guan Restaurant, and KFC. Also this monitor is located by the mouth of Sardine Canyon which has a constant wind blowing from the East, bringing air from Cache Valley into Box Elder County. This monitor could possibly be move out by the Bird Refuge or even future west to get a True reading of the air quality in Box Elder County. Box Elder County is NOT the problem with winter time air quality, look to the SOURCE of the problem in the high population counties and leave the smaller population counties alone.
    I think that this state needs to focus on the bigger causes of the pollution problem, more so than the 4% cause which is being forced upon us.
    After going to the meeting in Brigham City on the proposed ban of wood burning, it was very obvious that the EPA and the DAQ have their tunnel vision minds already made up in favor of this proposed ban by not allowing questions directed to them to be answered. How can a few unelected individuals have so much power and say as to how the 4% must live and not direct themselves to the real problem of air quality.

  • Bobby

    Fox 13 should put up a link to all of the video recorded at these events so those of us who could not attend could see the entire meeting. I was able to watch part of the meeting in Brigham City but left to make room for others, let’s see what we missed. (Ogden too)

    • Nicole

      What did you get to hear that was said in the meeting in Brigham City? I went, but I never even got in the building. I almost did about an hour into it, but I had to leave for work before I got in.

  • Mark McMillan Sr.

    Everyone. Please stop using the figure of 4% to 5% for wood burning because it’s much less. I’ve tried to get with DAQ and let them know how they’re being deceived by their own information (filters). In Salt Lake County we have garage fires, apartment fires, & warehouse fires almost on a continual basis. There was a new 64,000 square foot fully (wood) framed new apartment building very close to their SLC filters that was set on fire by an arson and burned to the ground. All these different “fires” and the raw smoke being picked up by their filters is being blamed on responsible wood burning to keep warm. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be listening. There are a number of other sources that I haven’t listed. It’s very frustrating when we don’t have a news media that’s willing to do a little critical thinking let alone report reality. So far it appears the Governor has spoken & DAQ is going to oblige him. I’m not sure where we go from here. Every meeting so far has been totally packed with don’t ban people. Look at the time of day they’re holding these meetings to discourage participation. Bryce Bird (DAQ) said he thought they’d at least get a large ban crowed in SLC but it was at least 25 to 1 to leave us the heck alone.

  • Moi

    So, people want cleaner air but they don’t want to actually do anything about it. Our area has some of the worst air quality in the country-if something like banning wood burning during winter months helps then I am all for it!

    • BOB

      Perhaps we should ban California from having huge wild fires and Washington State from permitting Volcanos which deposite far greater emissions.

      If MOI is so worried about emissions perhaps he/she should turn off their computer and save the energy to create the electrictiy to run it.

  • Josie Wales

    Follow the money folks. It’s not hard to see who would gain finacially from a draconian bill like this. Questar Gas could stand to gain from this…perhaps the other news stations have tens of thousands in ad revenue and SVP relationships that they are protecting by NOT reporting on this. Not to mention, the made up stats Dr. Meunch spouts that the DAQ say is gospel. They talk like he is the authority on the subject when in reality, he is just the loudest, most well funded, far left environut in town. This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  • Josie Wales

    This is a TAX on the poorest of the poor, and will change nothing in terms of air quality. People who used to be able to supplement heating their homes with a renewable source from their own backyard will now have to shell out money they DO NOT HAVE to questar so they can “efficiently” heat their homes with nonrenewable fossil fuels. Seems legit.

  • Mark McMillan Sr.

    MOI. Please read this comrade.
    MYTH: Wood heat is bad for the environment.
    FACT: Biomass fuels, such as wood, are “carbon neutral,” which means they do not generate a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, as do fossil fuel generated electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, and coal. Heating with renewable resources, such as wood, lessens our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. In fact, heating an average home with wood can save enough nonrenewable fossil fuel to operate an automobile for a full year.
    – See more at: http://www.outdoorfurnacefacts.com/wood-corn-heating-facts/myths-vs-facts/#005
    “Dr”. Brian Meonch is super loose with the truth and many times just plain ridicules. I see UCAR is now listing some of the same bs on their web site with our tax $’s. His stats are easily refutable but your basic drone will repeat the dribble as if it’s gospel. Simply because the good Dr.(Anesthesiologist) wears a white lab coat when speaking to the news media. Must be very tempting if you think the sky is falling, to repeat the big scare if your a parrot. His brand of radical environmentalism is catching on in other areas of the country by using a few doctors on their board that have similar interests and changing their name to Physicians for so & so. In their own words it gives them instant credibility that they haven’t had in the past. His group has been wildly successful in penetrating different government regulatory agencies that prior to the “Physician” name wouldn’t have given them the time of day.

  • Josh

    Just got out of the Logan meeting, the crowd was too large for the building, let alone the room in which the meeting was held. A large group stayed outside and warmed themselves with some portable wood burning stoves that were brought in for the purpose… I heard only 1 comment the whole night that was in favor, the jist of that argument being “we have to so something!”. Actually we don’t have to, but if we were to, banning wood burning would never be an option in my book, the right to keep your family warm and fed supercedes any other credible argument that can be made against burning wood. Even if it was the biggest polluter out there, I still don’t think a ban is justifiable. But of course whether it’s even a significant factor in air quality issue is in question. I suggest we all call our legislators and request impeachment proceedings on Gov. Herbert. The man has clearly demonstrated a fundamental disconnect with the needs of the people and basic human rights. Everyone I spoke to this evening was willing to consider responsible burning plans, but a ban is pure insanity and unconstitutional at that. Impeach the governor…

  • Ron

    Let me show you how the news media plays the games on the side of banning stoves. Pay attention to their air quality reports and compare them to the actual air quality monitoring site. Right now channel 2 shows 5 county’s in yellow but when I go to air.utah.gov. There is not one county in yellow. All green. They have played this same game the past couple years.

  • Mark McMillan Sr.

    I agree with Josh completely. The governor isn’t speaking at all like the guy I thought I voted for. First he tells us how he’s going to blow the 5 to 7 million dollar tax surplus from last year and in the same breath says “this is the perfect time to raise the gasoline tax”. Now let’s just ban wood stoves from the little people to make dr. moench’s radical group happy for about 2 seconds. Great job Mr. conservative!

  • Bruce

    Some things to remember about smoky wood burning, _with close neighbors_, is that a substantial percentage of the “smoke” is carbon monoxide, and other harmful chemicals. Also, smoke chemicals are HEAVIER THAN AIR.( this means that any nearby smoke is at ground level, unless there is a strong wind) The only thing “natural” about wood burning is a _ Forest Fire_. Every other type of wood burning is synthetic (manmade). Try living closeby from someone using a fireplace every day, and be prepared to become sick.

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