Aubertine Gets Environmental Board to Table Outdoor Wood Boiler Regs

Submitted by Sen. Darrel Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent)

WATERTOWN —State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said today that the state Environmental Board will not vote on revised outdoor wood boiler regulations proposed by the DEC and will at the request of Sen. Aubertine submit the revised regulations for additional public comment.

“The public outcry in opposition to these regulations, especially here in Central and Northern New York, has been overwhelming,” Sen. Aubertine said. “The regulations they had proposed were unworkable. I’m pleased they have made some changes, rolling back some of the worst provisions. However, the remaining regulations still warrant public comment. This is good news that the DEC has revised the regulations and the environmental board has not approved the regulations moving it to another comment period. I’m grateful to the Farm Bureau and all who have stood strong with me on this important issue.”

The Senator followed through on conversations with DEC officials by sending a letter calling on the Department to follow rules set in the State Administrative Procedures Act, requiring that when a proposed rule making document is “substantially changed” that it be made available for public comment again. The Senator received word from the Governor’s office today that the DEC has received the letter and the Environmental Board will table the rules today to open it up to public comment. The Farm Bureau, the St. Lawrence County Legislature and others across the state have made similar requests.

“Our farmer and rural members are relieved that DEC’s Environmental Review Board tabled these unreasonable regulations on wood boilers,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau. “Our lobbying staff has worked around the clock on this issue trying to prevent DEC from enacting these regulations before the snow flies. We are hopeful we can convince DEC once and for all that outdoor wood boilers are a reasonable and efficient home heating method and that jurisdiction over their use should be at the local level, not from Albany. As DEC currently does not have a Commissioner, due to the recent dismissal of former Commissioner Grannis, this is not the time to enact these restrictive regulations. We are grateful to Sen. Aubertine for his efforts to make sure that wood boiler owners in the North Country can continue to use this renewable resource for heating their homes and water this winter.”

In June, the Senate unanimously passed legislation introduced by Sen. Aubertine to provide for the continued use of outdoor boilers currently in operation, require any new boilers sold in New York be Environmental Protection Agency approved, and allow for local decision making with respect to zoning issues such as setbacks and chimney heights.

“Residents and small business people of the North Country depend on this alternative energy source for heating and the Senator understands the importance of these wood boilers in our rural communities,” said Fred Morrill, St. Lawrence County Legislator, who introduced a resolution calling for a comment period. “We’re grateful that he stands with us and is a strong advocate for all of us. People are so upset about this and were worried we would not have the opportunity to comment on the changes. It’s not right for a regulatory agency to make these rules that are like legislation, when it wasn’t passed by a legislature accountable to the electorate. Without the voice of the Senator to speak to those who have very little interest in our issues, it could have been ignored. They listen to Darrel.”