It’s a long way from Missouri to Maine, but the EPA has a way of uniting voters across all sorts of distances, whether geographic or political. The agency in January proposed a dramatic tightening of emmision requirements on all new woodstoves, with a grandfathering clause, if you will, on existing ones. After one of the coldest winters in decades, the proposal is raising more than just eyebrows, especially in remote rural areas where a woodstove is a reliable and sustainable source of heat for far flung homes isolated from any urban infrastructure. Once again, a one size fits all approach is to be brought to bear across the whole country rather than one that takes into account local needs.

In South Dakota, for example, one in four homes rely on a woodstove or fireplace to help get them through what even in a mild year is a severe winter. Missouri fought back with legislation defending voters’ right to heat their homes as they see fit. And Democratic and Republican legislators from Montana as well as Maine and Missouri joined together in stating their worries about the EPA’s proposed regulation. Congress – that would be your elected representatives – want in on the debate. Paul Lepage, Maine’s Republican governor as well former General Manager of Marden’s Surplus and Salvage, and a former city councilor and former mayor of Waterville, has concerns. This is someone who really understands local, from a business as well as a municipal perspective. Governor Lepage worries that the intended regulation will make woodstoves prohibitively expensive and in fact worsen the problem as people hold off purchasing new, more efficient ones. In other words, why not let the market continualy adjust to buyers’ needs which includes cleaner stoves as well as not freezing in winter? Might the EPA listen to Congress on this one? By, for example, providing broader and more flexible guidelines that can be adapted to local needs? Heating a home in Washington DC is not quite the same issue as heating one on the northern edge of the Great Plains after all.