Earth Log

Earth Log: Fireplace owners, the wood-burning vote is this week

Set the sweaty September aside for a moment. Your wood fires in your fireplace on Thanksgiving and Christmas will probably go away -- this year.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District board is scheduled Thursday to vote on tighter wood-burning restrictions.

If the board votes to change the wood-burning rule, it probably will double the number of no-burn days in the Valley for folks who use fireplaces or older wood-burning devices, such as stoves.

But 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. The federal standard, by the way, is 35 micrograms, and people have raised doubts about this plan. What if it makes the air dirtier?

But air district leaders defended it, saying the approach will reduce overall health risks and pollution.

If you have a point to make about this rule change, the time is now. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. Thursday, 1990 E. Gettysburg Avenue in Fresno. It is item No. 7 on the agenda.