The Worst Media Myths About EPA's Move To Cut Woodstove Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency is updating its air pollution safeguards for new wood-burning stoves and heaters, with the initial pollution reductions taking effect on May 15. Conservative media have frequently fear-mongered and misinformed about these standards, so here's a handy guide to rebutting the most egregious media myths that are sure to resurface in the days ahead.

EPA Protections Will Cut Pollution From Woodstoves

New Standards Will Reduce Harmful Pollution From Wood-Burning Stoves By Nearly 70 Percent. In February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rule to dramatically reduce particulate matter pollution from new wood-burning stoves and heaters. The EPA estimates that the protections will cut dangerous particle and volatile organic compound pollution from stoves and heaters by nearly 70 percent, and reduce their carbon monoxide pollution by 62 percent. On May 15 -- 60 days after it was entered into the Federal Register -- the first round of pollution reductions took effect. It is the first time that woodstove emissions standards have been updated in 27 years. [ Fact Sheet, 2/4/15; Federal Register, 3/16/15]

MYTH: EPA Is “Banning” Majority Of Woodstoves

Heartland Institute: “The Vast Majority Of U.S. Wood-Burning Stoves Are Now Banned.” The industry-funded Heartland Institute claimed in a blog post that "[t]he vast majority of U.S. wood-burning stoves are now banned under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that were finalized in February." [, 5/13/15; Media Matters, 2/3/15]

Right Wing News: EPA Move Will “Make Every Wood Burning Stove In America Illegal.” Conservative blog Right Wing News wrote that the EPA is moving to “make every wood burning stove in America illegal,” going on to cite a statement from a furnace store owner who said “this is the death knoll of any wood burning.” [Right Wing News, 2/24/14]

FACT: The EPA Is Not “Banning” Consumers' Stoves; It's Updating Emissions Standards For Stoves Sold In Future

New EPA Standards Do Not Affect Currently-Owned Stoves. The new standards for woodstoves apply only to stoves sold in the future, not to stoves currently used in homes. Even the Heartland blog that claimed stoves are “now banned” admitted as much later in the article: “Under the EPA rules, homeowners with existing wood-burning stoves can continue to use them.” Woodstoves and heaters that do not meet the new standards may continue to be sold until December 31, 2015. [ Fact Sheet, 2/4/15]

MYTH: EPA's Limits On Particle Pollution May Not Benefit Public Health

Heartland Institute Cited Opponents Who Questioned Link Between Particulate Matter And Health Problems. The Heartland Institute blog claimed that the EPA's estimates of the public health benefits from the new standards “have come under fierce criticism.” Heartland stated that Stonehill College professor Sean Mulholland has “cited literature questioning the link between particulate matter and mortality,” and that Ron Arnold, executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, “says the link between particulate matter and health problems is not as clear-cut as the agency claims.” Heartland then quoted Arnold questioning whether woodstove pollution is “causing” people to get sick, and attacking “predatory scientists” who make that connection.  [, 5/13/15]

FACT: EPA Safeguards Will Prevent Asthma Attacks, Heart Attacks, And Premature Deaths

Smoke From Wood Heaters And Stoves Is Major Contributor To Air Pollution. The Associated Press reported in 2013 that EPA data shows emissions from wood-burning stoves and heaters comprise 13 percent of all soot pollution in the country. And in many areas, emissions from burning wood contribute over 50 percent of wintertime fine particle pollution, according to air quality and emissions data. In some areas in New Hampshire, for example, the state Department of Environmental Services reports that 80 percent of particulate matter pollution is connected to wood combustion. [Associated Press, 10/9/13; Air Quality and Emissions Data; Supporting Information for the Residential Wood Heater New Source Performance Standard, 8/14/13; New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, 2012]

Many Studies Show Breathing Smoke From Woodstoves Poses Serious Health Risks. Residential wood burning exposes people to fine particle pollution, which poses serious health risks. The EPA has compiled 20 scientific studies detailing the links between particulate matter pollution and adverse health effects, including aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and premature death. The new EPA standards will protect public health by reducing the frequency of these and other maladies. [, accessed 5/14/15; 2/4/15]

MYTH: EPA Standards Will Raise Energy Costs, Harm Rural And Low-Income Families

Daily Caller Promoted GOP Claim That Rule Will Be Expensive, Harm Consumers. The Daily Caller claimed that “critics” allege the rule will “rais[e] energy costs,” and promoted opposition by Republican lawmakers who are “saying it would harm millions in rural America that rely on wood stoves to heat their homes every winter.” The Daily Caller also quoted Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) claiming the EPA is “hitting hardworking Montanans in their pocketbooks,” and Wisconsin state Rep. David Craig, who said the rule will “hurt Wisconsinites, particularly low income families who rely on wood heat.” [Daily Caller, 2/5/15]

FACT: Health Benefits Far Outweigh Costs, And Consumers Will Save Money On Wood

New Standards Will Produce Up To $165 In Health Benefits For Each Dollar Spent To Comply. The new standards will result in immense public health benefits to the American public, estimated at $3.4 to $7.6 billion annually, or $74-$165 for each dollar spent to comply. [ Fact Sheet, 2/4/15]

Future Stoves Will Be More Efficient, Saving Consumers Money On Wood. According to the EPA, “wood heaters meeting the standards generally will be more efficient than older ones, meaning homeowners will be able to heat their homes using less wood.” [ Fact Sheet, 2/4/15]