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.
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