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Room filled beyond capacity as citizens debate merits of banning wood burning in Utah

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Posted at 9:34 PM, Jan 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 23:34:14-05

SALT LAKE CITY – The second of seven planned public hearings on a proposal that would ban wood burning in Utah statewide during the winter months was held in Salt Lake City Thursday night, and it was standing-room only as residents packed the room.

The proposed ban would prohibit wood burning between November 1 and March 15 of each year. After residents at a meeting in Tooele County turned out to oppose the ban Wednesday night, Salt Lake County followed suit on Thursday.

The conference room at the Department of Environmental Quality in Salt Lake City was so full that some attendees had to stand in the hallway outside.

“My wood burning stove is my back-up plan for any personal, state or national crisis,” one attendee said while addressing the room. “Without it, I cannot be independent, self-sufficient or self-reliant.”

Another resident said pollution from vehicles, specifically diesel trucks, is a bigger problem, and that officials should address those concerns rather than wood burning.

"This little teeny ban that you're going to do is like swatting at mosquitoes when an alligator has your foot," Craig Logreen said.

Most of those who attended spoke against the ban, but there were a few who were in favor.

“As a pregnant woman living in the state with the highest level of autism, I have a very, very real connection with the clean air,” another attendee said. "I hear a lot of talk about people having the right to live as they see freely, what about my right, and every other person's right out there, to have a healthy child?"

Two doctors in attendance were among those who supported the ban, and one said wood smoke may have a much greater toxicity than cigarette smoke.

“Scientific studies show wood smoke does not disperse well, it penetrates other people’s homes very easily, and intense local hot spots of pollution are created,” Dr. Brian Moench said.

There are several more meetings planned, and people can also comment via email or via post. Click here for a schedule of the meetings and contact details for public comment.