PROVO, Utah -- Hundreds gathered at a Utah County building in Provo Thursday to voice their stance on the proposed ban on all wood burning in the state during the winter months, and it was the final public meeting held by the Division of Environmental Quality.
Thursday’s meeting was very much like the six that came before it: standing room only, hundreds wanting their voices on the issue heard, and most who attended were in opposition of a complete wood burning ban.
The meeting scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. started early in an effort to ensure everyone who signed up to speak on the proposed wood burning ban was heard.
The ban would prohibit the use of solid fuel burning devices for more than four months every winter in seven northern Utah counties in an effort to combat poor air quality.
Many voiced their strong opinions against the strict ban, citing their wood burning stoves as an affordable way to heat their homes. Others suggested alternatives to the policy.
“This complete ban is excessive and a one size fits all approach,” said John Mortensen of Utahns for Responsible Burning. “It will definitely affect some livelihoods, this blanket decision, one approach plan is going to affect a lot of people and we feel like we can come together and have a compromise.”
The few who stood and spoke in support of the ban were not warmly received
“We believe that science supports certainly significant restrictions on wood burning, but we don’t want to be forcing low-income people to dig deeper into their already limited pocket books in order to help clean the air, if you’re going to ban wood burning you’ve got to help those folks at the same time,” said Matt Pacenza of HEAL Utah.
The public can still submit written comments through February 9.
“It’s obviously a very passionate issue, we heard a lot of good comments and we’re going to be taking those comments to help shape whatever rule or policy come out of this,” said Brock Lebaron, a deputy director for the Utah Division of Environmental Quality
Once all comments have been collected, the air quality board within the DEQ will go over all of the suggestions and concerns and consider revisions.
The public comment period continues to February 9. You may submit written comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org., or mail to: Mark Berger, DAQ, P.O. Box 144820, 195 North 1950 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114.