Earth Log

Earth Log: From brown lawns in August to wood fire bans at Christmas

It seemed a little weird to me too -- writing in August that you might lose your yuletide fire.

I get it. You're not thinking about fireplaces. Your lawn is turning brown from tough water restrictions during California's desperate drought.

But when you get over the whiplash, it's a good idea to follow this proposed change in winter wood-burning rules

It's coming up for a vote Sept. 18 at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

The rule change could double the number of no-burn days in the San Joaquin Valley. But maybe not for everyone.

If you buy a federally certified wood-burning heater, you would be allowed to use it even on some pretty murky winter days.

The air district is proposing an exception that would allow such units to be burned until the soot forecast reaches 65 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

The no-burn threshold for fireplaces and older heaters would be 20 micrograms -- a whopping difference.

Commenters on the story raised doubts about this plan, but air district leaders defended it, saying the approach will reduce health risks and pollution.

Someone emailed me asking about incentive money to help buy a new unit. The district is proposing to increase incentive funds, which have been available for years.