Environmental officials in New York appear to be softening their stance on controversial new outdoor wood boiler regulations.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to set aside rules regarding existing boilers.
Albany spokeswoman Lori Severino says the DEC will hold more meetings with stakeholders, including wood boiler manufacturers, homeowners, green groups, and agricultural organizations. The meetings will focus on how to best regulate previously purchased furnaces.
Severino says the DEC hasn't decided whether or not to hold more public hearings after receiving thousands of comments last summer protesting the new regulations.
"Because of the amount of feedback that we got we limited the proposal," Severino said. "It addresses one portion of it, and then we're going to move forward on establishing some guidelines at this point."
The DEC does plan to move ahead with regulations for new boilers. Severino says new rules require furnaces to burn 90 percent cleaner, while using cleaner fuel and seeking an 18-foot stack height.
The new regulations provide leeway for farmers, Severino says.
"There is a one thousand setback requirement from neighboring properties," she said. "But that does not apply to agricultural operations. So instead they would have a one hundred foot setback from neighboring homes, but not property lines so it gives farms a bit more flexibility."
The state Environmental Review Board plans to consider the proposed regulations this week.
Officials with the New York Farm Bureau aren't impressed with the DEC's revised regulations. Last week Farm Bureau President Dean Norton accused - quote - "radical elements" from the DEC of shoving through new rules.
Farm Bureau brass says the regulations make furnaces too costly and restrict summertime use, when many farmers use them to heat water.