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County could tighten air quality rules
Advisory committee makes recommendations meant to help county meet federal standards by 2014

by SAMANTHA TIPLER, Herald and News 4/12/12
To meet federal air quality standards by 2014, Klamath County needs to increase monitoring of woodstove and fireplace use, reduce the number of open burning days and expand its woodstove replacement program to include rental homes.

Those recommendations are among 15 suggested by the Klamath Air Quality Advisory Committee. The committee has worked for a year to determine how to get air quality into compliance with federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.

If the federal standards aren’t met by the deadline, local industry would be required to follow strict pollution control regulations.
It also would put federal transportation funding for the area at risk and create continued health risks for area residents, state Department of Environmental Quality officials said.

The committee made its recommendations Tuesday to Klamath County commissioners, asking for a commitment of support from commissioners by the end of the month.

Public hearings then would be scheduled this summer and the report would be formalized and sent to the state in December.

Commissioners to add comments

Commissioners didn’t immediately commit, and said they had suggestions to add to the committee’s report.

Commissioner Cheryl Hukill said she wants to start a program that would replace woodstoves in rental units and homes with alternative heat sources such as gas stoves. A current woodstove replacement program only applies to owner-occupied homes, not rentals.

DEQ officials said there is no such program in place, and Hukill volunteered Klamath County as a place for a pilot project. The problem, officials agreed, is funding.

Klamath County has been under strict air quality regulations for years, requiring it to set green, yellow and red advisories for burning days during fall and winter months.

Efforts toward compliance

The color determines what type of wood appliance can be used on given days. For example, only certified woodstoves and pellet stoves can be used on yellow days within the county’s air quality zone. The air quality zone roughly follows the urban growth boundary.

Residents who do not follow the restrictions can be fined.

The county implemented a woodstove-replacement program, where financial incentives help homeowners replace old wood-burning stoves with more efficient, certified stoves. Since 2008, the number of uncertified woodstoves in the area has decreased by 769, according to the committee’s report.

In addition to its initial recommendations, the committee presented the county with a list of secondary strategies to use if it doesn’t meet the air quality standard.

Those include expanding the air quality zone, eliminating the open burning window, and prohibiting use of uncertified fireplaces and woodstoves.




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