(Nigel Buchanan)Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation, oversees a staff that develops regulations and voluntary initiatives to reduce air pollution. Over the past five years, she has played a leading role in updating EPA's air standards for woodstoves and heaters in accordance with the Clean Air Act. The new regulations were finalized this month—the first time the standards have been revised since 1988.
Woodstoves are widely used to heat homes in many areas of the country, and the smoke and soot they produce can dramatically increase air pollution. "A number of states were very interested" in the rule, McCabe told me. "They have high air pollution that these devices had contributed to in a large way." However, some lawmakers expressed concern that the new regulations would increase costs for families who depend on woodstoves to heat their homes.
The issue piqued the interest of several different groups. Some woodstove manufacturers were already producing devices more advanced than the 1988 standards required, but for many companies, newer standards could necessitate changes to products that would greatly increase their expenses. Citizens and community groups in affected states weighed in on the new standards; some were concerned that the smoke from woodstoves affected their health, while others echoed lawmakers' worries about higher energy costs.