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PFI Urges State Governors to Align with Department of Homeland Security, Exempt Wood Pellet Manufacturing from Business Shutdowns

PFI Urges State Governors to Align with Department of Homeland Security, Exempt Wood Pellet Manufacturing from Business Shutdowns

Seattle, WA– On Tuesday, March 24th the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) sent letters to the governors of wood pellet producing states urging them to align their essential business policies with those outlined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  released on March 19, 2020. In that advisory the DHS classified wood products manufacturing as “essential critical infrastructure” and eligible to continue operations if states decide to restrict or close non-essential businesses in their efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

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A Letter from Tim Portz to Governor Officials Regarding COVID-19

March 23, 2020

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EPA Strikes Minimum Pellet Fuel Requirements from NSPS, Clarify Rules Regarding Use of Wood Pallet Residues

EPA Strikes Minimum Pellet Fuel Requirements from NSPS, Clarify Rules Regarding Use of Wood Pallet Residues

Washington, D.C.– On Wednesday, March 11 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted an amendment to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for New Residential Wood Heaters, New  Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces that strikes the majority of the minimum pellet fuel requirements initially included in the regulation and clarifies its rule on the use of wood pallet derived fibers.

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PFI Applauds Wyden Amendment to Include Biomass Thermal Energy Provisions in the American Energy Innovation Act

Washington, D.C.– On Tuesday, March 3 Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D) - Oregon introduced an amendment to the American Energy Innovation Act which is expected to be taken up for debate by the Senate this week. Wyden’s amendment includes provisions from the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act most notably a 30% tax credit for qualifying pellet stoves and boilers.

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PFI Executive Director, Members Testify at Office of Management and Budget

Washington, D.C.– On Monday, February 24th Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) Executive Director Tim Portz, board chairman John Utter (Lignetics) and past-chair Stephen Faehner (American Wood Fibers) testified at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the impact to pellet manufacturers of the inclusion of minimum pellet fuel requirements in the New Source Performance Standards, a contentious piece of air quality regulation originally introduced in 2015.

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Read Tim Portz’s Testimony offered at the Office of Management and Budget Regarding Minimum Pellet Requirements in the NSPS

"Good afternoon. My name is Tim Portz. I serve as the Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute a trade association representing the manufacturers of wood pellets, the industries that support them with parts and service and the retail community that ultimately sells their product to the consumer. Wood pellets are a highly-engineered solid fuel heating product manufactured from the waste residues generated from the manufacture of forest products like dimensional lumber, moldings and trim, hardwood flooring, windows and doors, and wood pallets. Wood pellets are burned in heating appliances designed specifically for their use to heat homes, businesses, and outbuildings all across the regions of this country that rely on seasonal space heating. Wood pellets are utilized typically in areas without natural gas service and offer a competitive option to heating oil and propane for as many as 1,000,000 American households.

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Residential Components of BTU Act Included in Draft of House Green Energy Tax Package

On November 19, 2019 the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures released a draft version of the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act. The inclusion of provisions from the BTU Act within this tax package developed by House democrats has been viewed by industry observers as the most promising opportunity to once and for all get the kind of difference making tax incentives enjoyed by the wind and solar industry for the broader wood heat sector.

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PFI Plans Board Meeting, Hill Visits and Association Roundtable for End of Month

The Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) will host its fall board meeting in Washington, D.C. on October 29th and 30th.  The two-day event begins with a board meeting on Tuesday, October 29th and then moves into a series of conversations with allied associations in the wood heat, wood products and forestry sectors. Also planned for Tuesday is a working lunch between members of the PFI board and leadership and board members from the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC).

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Read PFI’s Submitted Comments Regarding Minimum Pellet Fuel Requirements in the NSPS

In the PFI’s ongoing efforts to eliminate the inclusion of minimum pellet fuel requirements from federal regulation the organization submitted extensive written comments outlining the legal justification for its position. These comments are the culmination of nearly four years of ongoing work on this issue and clearly and articulately outline the PFI’s position.

Read our comments now. 

Past PFI Chair Stephen Faehner Testifies at EPA NSPS Hearing

December 17, 2018 (Washington, DC)--On Monday, December 17 past Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) and American Wood Fiber President and CEO Stephen Faehner testified at a public hearing regarding the recently proposed amendments and call for comments on the Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters, and Forced-Air Furnaces

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Stephen Faehner's Public Hearing Statement

My name is Stephen Faehner and I am President and CEO of American Wood Fibers in Columbia, Maryland.  I am also past-Chairman of the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI).
My family started selling sawdust in 1919.  My father founded American Wood Fibers in 1966 and we produce a number of consumer, industrial and agricultural products, including PFI certified pellets.  I am here today because of the importance of EPA regulations to the future of the pellet fuel industry.  
PFI was incorporated in 1985, representing approximately 40 fuel producers which have thousands of employees.  PFI serves as a leading forum for sharing expertise regarding residential and commercial densified biomass.  Prior to EPA’s 2015 new source performance standard (NSPS) regulations, PFI established industry-leading standards for pellet fuel that remain in effect today and are publicly available.  
Pellet fuels represent the cleanest burning alternative in the wood heating sector; they have been used in a number of communities to reduce particulate matter and are often part of wood stove “changeout” programs, designed to spur replacement of older equipment.  Yet despite this success -- and despite 30 years of PFI’s efforts in this area -- EPA’s NSPS regulations unfairly treat pellet fuel as though it was “dirtiest” wood fuel available, imposing exponentially more regulation on this fuel than any other.
Let me give you a few examples of this regulatory overkill:
  • Under the NSPS, pellet sizes are regulated down to a thousandth of an inch.  If pellets vary from size standards, they cannot be used in certified stoves. 
  • EPA’s current regulations define 34 different requirements for pellet fuel, compared with just 7 requirements for chip wood and no specifications at all for cord wood, by far the largest fuel source in the NSPS category.  EPA illogically applies the most onerous regulations to the cleanest fuel.
  • Homeowners and even casual operators of pellet fuels are potentially subject to fines of $37,500 per day if they use non-compliant pellet fuel.  Under EPA’s regulations, consumer “misfueling” of a pellet stove is a violation of Clean Air Act.
  • EPA’s 2015 analysis shows particulate matter and volatile organic baseline emissions from pellet stoves to be far below the 2020, Step 2 controlled emissions for almost all other categories.  This seriously undermines EPA’s entire rationale for the standards.
Perhaps equally troubling from an industry standpoint is that EPA’s detailed requirements lock current technology in stone.  Manufacturers cannot vary from federal specifications or their fuel will be strictly prohibited from being used in certified pellet stoves.  Presumably, if new investments were made and new pellet fuels were developed, the certified pellet stove market would be forever closed off unless EPA decided to act through a lengthy and uncertain regulatory process.  This frankly destroys any industry incentive to innovate.
PFI will submit written comments that address our concerns in more detail, but EPA’s proposed rule squarely seeks comment on whether the Agency has legal authority to establish pellet fuel requirements pursuant to Clean Air Act section 111.  Here, the answer is “no.”
For example, EPA states that under Clean Air Act section 111(b)(5), the Agency cannot not “prescribe a specific technology that must be used to comply with a standard or performance.”  Yet this is exactly what EPA’s pellet fuel requirements do.  They are part of a prohibited system of continuous emission control.
Even if EPA’s standards could pass legal muster, the standards cannot be justified on the basis of cost.  EPA’s analysis shows that VOC reductions anticipated from pellet requirements would cost $112,894 per ton – as compared with a cost of $334 per ton from other wood stoves.  Such an extreme imbalance is, on its face, arbitrary and capricious.
As a matter of law and a matter of regulatory policy, EPA should reject any supposed “need” for highly prescriptive regulatory standards for pellet fuel.  This is even more so given that vibrant industry standards exist and, in fact, were in place before EPA decided to impose regulations.
In brief, the errors that EPA committed in the 2015 rule must be corrected both as a matter of law and common sense.
I thank you for your time and ask you to resolve this matter in an expeditious fashion by eliminating 40 C.F.R. 60.532(e) and 60.5474(e) in their entirety.

Pellet Fuels Institute Launches Pellet Heat Social Media Beta Test In Multiple Markets

Initiative part of a broader effort to increase consumer awareness of wood pellet heat and increase the number of wood pellet appliances sold each year.

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