EPA Moves To Fine Alaskans For Burning Wood To Keep Warm

By:  @community, 2 months ago
Comments: 29 ..


Sadly, this is not from The Onion. For satire to work it has to be believable and no one with commonsense would believe that the federal government would intervene to fine people living in Alaska for using wood-burning stoves in the winter. But the advantage that the federal government has is that it does stuff that is so profoundly stupid that no one would ever believe they would do it. And that is their greatest defense mechanism. Just like ‘Verbal’ Kint/Keyser Sose says in The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Via The New York Times:

“It’s all one thing — when you most need the heat is when you’re most apt to create a serious air pollution problem for yourself and the people in your community,” said Tim Hamlin, the director of the office of air and waste at the E.P.A.’s Region 10, which includes Alaska.

And forces are now converging to heighten the tension in this seemingly unlikely pollution story. Civil fines by Fairbanks North Star Borough — which includes the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, with a total population of about 100,000 — could be assessed in coming days against residential polluters. The E.P.A. could declare the entire area to be in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year, with potentially huge economic implications, including a cutoff of federal transportation funds.

Residents are also trapped, he said, by economics. Natural gas, a much cleaner fuel source, is not widely available in this part of Alaska, and heating oil can be very expensive. Oil also produces particulate pollution, though less than wood. A study for the borough last year said residents here spent, on average, almost four times the national average in annual heating costs.

Mr. Hamlin, the E.P.A. official, said his agency was definitely not trying to take away anyone’s wood stove, or make life more expensive. But he said the Clean Air Act, passed by Congress in 1970, requires a standard of breathable air for all Americans. The E.P.A. was given the job of enforcing that standard.

“We don’t want to be telling people what to do, but the standard is what it is, and we want to work with you to be able to get there,” he said.

Shorter: “We don’t want to tell people what to do but they can freeze to death or pay a huge fine.”

And while this Tim Hamlin character is not personally to blame, the EPA, in all its permutations, is to blame for inserting itself into a distinctly local situation and bludgeoning a local governnment into submission with the threat of fines and loss of federal funds. (The Federalist has a good piece on the issue from the viewpoint of an Alaskan native, not a Native Alaskan.) This is how a tyrannical government treats subjects, not how a servant government treats citizens. It needs to stop and only Congress can make it stop.



link 01/11/17 04:27:41PM @aeonpax:

This appears to be EPA overreach, at first glance, but, I have not verified the facts presented.

link 01/11/17 07:50:29PM @96ws6:

In addition to the two  links in the article, here is more info


While EPA’s most recent regulations aren’t altogether new, their impacts will nonetheless be severe.  Whereas restrictions had previously banned wood-burning stoves that didn’t limit fine airborne particulate emissions to 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the change will impose a maximum 12 microgram limit. To put this amount in context, EPA estimates that secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter.

Most wood stoves that warm cabin and home residents from coast-to-coast can’t meet that standard. Older stoves that don’t cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.

The impacts of EPA’s ruling will affect many families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 survey statistics, 2.4 million American housing units (12 percent of all homes) burned wood as their primary heating fuel, compared with 7 percent that depended upon fuel oil.

Only weeks after EPA enacted its new stove rules, attorneys general of seven states sued the agency to crack down on wood-burning water heaters as well. The lawsuit was filed by Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, all predominately Democrat states.  Claiming that EPA’s new regulations didn’t go far enough to decrease particle pollution levels, the plaintiffs cited agency estimates that outdoor wood boilers will produce more than 20 percent of wood-burning emissions by 2017. A related suit was filed by the environmental group Earth Justice.

link 01/11/17 04:31:13PM @pepe:

Well in a few days the EPA will be rendered useless by design.

link 01/11/17 06:01:55PM @cerenkov:

Sounds like something Trump can by telling the EPA to not enforce that particular law. Like Obama did with immigration. 

link 01/11/17 07:51:04PM @96ws6:

Let's hope so

Dean Moriarty
link 01/11/17 08:06:47PM @dean-moriarty:

I'm not surprised. Where I live they stopped allowing wood burning fireplaces and stoves in new construction a long time ago. Only grandfathered dwellings can burn wood around here. 

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/11/17 08:07:32PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

I guess the EPA will require natural gas lines to be run to every igloo.

Dean Moriarty
link 01/11/17 08:12:40PM @dean-moriarty:

I think the native Americans still club seals and burn the blubber oil. 

link 01/11/17 08:27:51PM @kavika:

You are completely wrong Dean. It's not the First Nations people that club baby seals (harp and hooded), it's the white man that does the killing. The Indigenous people hunt adult seals for food and subsistence and account for 3% of all seals killed.

You might want to ask Buzz, why the Canadian government permits the slaughter of baby seals. Even Russia outlawed the killing of baby seals.


Buzz of the Orient
link 01/11/17 08:37:09PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

I will answer that. Seals propigate like rabbits, and they are the predators of fish. Baby seals are clubbed in order to keep the population in control, and if you're not happy about that then tell your grandchildren that one day they won't have another ocean fish to eat. Bridget Bardot cannot comprehend that.

link 01/11/17 08:39:23PM @kavika:

Amazing how the fish and seals survived for thousands of years together without the fish disappearing from the sea. Overfishing by humans is the main cause of the decline of the ocean fisheries

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/11/17 08:49:04PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

Yes, Kavika, but it is the combination of the seals and commercial fishing (which is a lot more recent than 1000 years ago) that is causing the decline of the fish, such as on the Grand Banks. You can legally control the commercial fishermen, but the only way you can control the seals is to keep the numbers within limitations.  When I was a kid and my father took me along with a bunch of friends fishing on Lake Erie for bass, we were all limited to a catch of no more than 6 bass each. It wasn't "catch and release" fishing, it was a combination of sport and "catch and eat" fishing.

link 01/11/17 09:08:27PM @kavika:

Are you aware that bass fishing has instituted rules, such as minimum size, (length and weight) because of overfishing in many lakes in the U.S. which in some lakes the bass completely disappeared.

Buzz, man has done more to damage the fish population in the world than seals every will.

The long liners out of the FE are especially bad, you only have to ask Fiji, Tonga, Samoa what has happened there because of the long liners.

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/11/17 10:25:38PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

In Canada the bass minimum was 6 per day per person, and they had to be 10" or longer, but I don't recall a weight minimum, whch might be applicable to other kinds of seafood. I would assume it's the commercial fisheries rather than the sports fishing that is causing the problem.  As far as the seals problem goes, it was either going to be well-policed limitations of commercial fishing, or limiting the proliferation of seals, in order to maintain some balance. That is why I don't decry controlled clubbing of baby seals. 

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/12/17 12:36:42AM @buzz-of-the-orient:

Ooops! On re-reading my comment I realized I said the Bass "minimum" was 6 per day. I meant to say MAXIMUM, not minimum. I must have been thinking of the length when I wrote "minimum".

link 01/11/17 08:34:33PM @cerenkov:

I think the natives kill whales for oil.

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/11/17 08:42:02PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

The number the Natives kill is infinitesmal to what the Japanese are doing to cause the disappearance of whales altogether.

link 01/11/17 08:59:45PM @kavika:

Along with whales the Japanese slaughter bottlenose dolphins.

link 01/11/17 09:38:02PM @cerenkov:

The indigenous people in several coastal Japanese cities kill marine mammal for food. Just like native people in America do. Exactly the same.

link 01/11/17 10:06:24PM @kavika:

No it's not the same. The indigenous people of Alaska and Russia are restricted to the number of whales that can be killed by NOAA. They are subsistence for these people which use every part of the whale.

The Japanese, Norway and Iceland kill many more whales under the guise of scientific study even though there is a worldwide moratorium on killing whales. There meat is sold on the open market in Japan.



link 01/12/17 10:12:52AM @cerenkov:

No. Only the Japanese use the research angle. Norway and Iceland did not consent to the moratorium. Japan's whale meat is sold on the open market because the moratorium requires it.

link 01/12/17 10:25:53AM @pepe:

There is no reason to slaughter a whale. They have grocery stores in Alaska and Canada. Time to evolve with the rest of mankind. Stop whaling! No exceptions!

link 01/11/17 09:36:20PM @cerenkov:

The whales killed by the Japanese are an insignificant fraction of the minke population, which is not remotely endangered. Norway kills more whales.

link 01/11/17 10:07:19PM @kavika:

Actually they kill more than the Minke whale.

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/11/17 10:32:40PM @buzz-of-the-orient:


Whaling facts and figures



Japan has killed 8,201 minke whales in the Antarctic for “scientific purposes” since the moratorium in 1986. A total of 840 whales were killed by Japan under special permit during the 31 years before the moratorium1.

Japan took a total of 866 whales in 2006/07 season:

  • 3 Southern Hemisphere fin whales,
  • 508 Southern Hemisphere minke whales,
  • 197 North Pacific minke whales,
  • 51 North Pacific Brydes whales,
  • 101 North Pacific sei whales,
  • 6 North Pacific sperm whales.2 

The 2005/06 season was the first time Japan had taken fin whales, an endangered species.

Japan have previously announced that in the 2007-08 they will increase their take of fin whales to 50, and also take 50 humpback whales as part of their “scientific whaling” programme.

1) Info from IWC 58 Workshop document on Fin Whales WKM-AWI8

2) Info from IWC website submitted by the Government of New Zealand

  • IWC 61 07-08 whaling season facts and figures

    PDF 82 KB



In 2006/07 Iceland took 60 minke whales under special permit for "scientific whaling", up from 39 in the last season1.

However Iceland announced in October 2006 that in addition to the whales caught for scientific research, they would resume commercial whaling and issued quotas for 30 minke whales and 9 fin whales2.

In the 2006/2007 season, Iceland took 7 fin whales and 1 minke whale under its commercial whaling programme.

1) Info from IWC website
2) Info from Iceland Ministry of Fisheries website



Norway broke the moratorium in 1993 and resumed commercial whaling. Since then they have taken over 6,879 minke whales under objection1.

Norway took 545 whales in 2006 season.

1) Info from IWC website

Source: 59th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (2007)


The "scientific purposes" is such a bullshit designation - how many damned whates are needed for scientific purposes?


Buzz of the Orient
link 01/17/17 09:18:32AM @cerenkov:

Lol! Seriously? Sea Shepherd?

Japan is not hiding anyrhing. They are openly hunting for research. And the minke whale was not "protected". 

You shouldn't trust terrorists, Buzz.

Buzz of the Orient
link 01/17/17 10:00:25PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

If the Japanese did not know they were doing something wrong, why did they try to hide the whale? I'm sorry, Cerenkov, but I cannot fathom (a good word when talking about the sea) THOUSANDS of whales being required for research purposes. 

link 01/12/17 04:03:05AM @aeonpax:

I have a good one. It starts off where this baby seal walks into a club........


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