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|Who||Casperson For Congress|
|What||“Our Voice in Washington”|
State Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba is in a three-way Republican battle for Congress in the Aug. 2 primary in the sprawling 1st U.S. House district, which encompasses much of northern Michigan and all of the Upper Peninsula. The trio are vying to replace outgoing GOP incumbent Dan Benishek. His primary rivals include former state Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City and Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. from Watersmeet in the UP. On the Democratic side, former Michigan Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson faces former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon.
“I started out in the logging business, here in northern Michigan ... So when Washington bureaucrats wrote a rule that would virtually end the use of wood stoves for people's heat, I passed a law to stop ‘em.”
Casperson's 30-second video ad highlights his populist stand against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations intended to limit pollution by reducing emissions in newly manufactured wood stoves. Seated in a logging truck as he makes his points, Casperson blows the air horn at the end, then shouts: “Hear that, Washington!?”
Statements under review:
“So when Washington bureaucrats wrote a rule that would virtually end the use of wood stoves for people's heat…”
In January 2014, the EPA proposed new pollution limits for residential wood stoves, the first change in such standards since 1988. As enacted in 2015, the rules require wood stove manufacturers to achieve pollution-reduction standards within five years estimated to cut fine-particle emissions by 80 percent. The EPA projects the measure would result in $3.4 billion to $7.6 billion in annual health and financial benefits. The standards do not apply to stoves already use.
Soon after the EPA's announcement, Casperson – who worked 27 years in his family’s log trucking business - swung into action with a state bill he said was aimed at blocking the regulations. Casperson’s bill was signed into law at the end of 2014.Missouri passed similar legislation.
The new standards have real consequences for Michigan, given that the Associated Press reported the state ranked No. 1 in 2011 for fine-particle emissions from wood stoves – at nearly 40,000 tons - and No. 6 in per-capita wood stove emissions. Michigan also led the nation in the percentage increase of households using wood as a primary heat source, rising by 135 percent from 2000 to 2010. About 130,000 Michigan households – 3.4 percent - heat their homes with wood.
Health and environmental advocates cite studies showing particles from wood-burning stoves bring associated health risks, which the new EPA regulations are calculated to address. According to the EPA, short-term exposure to wood smoke can aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks or bronchitis and long-term exposure can lead to reduced lung function or chronic bronchitis.
Conservative critics of the EPA rule argue the standards go too far, and would make future production of wood-burning stoves too expensive, which is what Casperson is apparently alluding to when he argues the rules would end using wood for heat. In some cases, critics have even referred to the rules as a “ban” on wood stoves. These claims lack supporting evidence. Tightening emission requirements is hardly the same as banning future wood stoves, though it will likely make production of new stoves more expensive.
As noted in a state House Fiscal Agency analysis, the EPA estimates the tougher emission standards will add about 2 to 6 percent to the cost of stoves, depending on the type. The EPA projects the regulations would add $43 to the cost of a $1,000 wood pellet stove. According to the Alliance for Green Heat, a nonprofit advocacy organization, two-thirds of wood pellet stoves already meet the 2020 guidelines. On the other hand, the National Federation of Independent Business, in its written objections to the standards, claims the rules will drive up the cost of stoves “perhaps by hundreds of dollars.”
Casperson’s ad also ignores the fact that the EPA rules specifically exempt wood-burning stoves sold before the new rules took effect.
“...I passed a law to stop ‘em.”
Casperson's assertion that he stopped the EPA's new wood stove standards is not backed by the evidence. His legislation would bar Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality from enforcing the stove manufacturing regulations. But that’s something the agency has said it doesn't do, anyway. Last year, a MDEQ spokesman said the department “has never had any role in enforcing manufacturing standards for wood stoves.”
Further, a spokesperson for the EPA told Bridge Magazine: “Many states enforce EPA rules. If they choose not to, EPA retains enforcement authority for the rule.” Under EPA regulations, manufacturers are compelled to meet specific emission standards within five years. Casperson's bill does nothing to impede that timeline.
Casperson swings and misses on the two salient claims of his ad. Would new EPA regulations end the use of wood stoves for home heat? There is no conclusive evidence that the rules will end the production of wood stoves anytime soon. Moreover, the rule exempts wood stoves currently in use from meeting the tougher emission standards.
Casperson’s second statement, that he passed a bill that stops the EPA standards, is just not supported by the evidence. It was clearly intended to halt the standards, but it didn’t stop them.
Correction: The original version of this article misspelled the name and military rank of GOP congressional candidate Jack Bergman. He is a retired Marine Corps Lt. General.