NOASH Waiver Changed to Reduce Pollution
July is not the time most folks think about burning wood for heat. But the state’s Division of Air Quality has opened applications for NOASH waivers. Those are the certifications that allow people to burn solid fuels, even during a burn ban, because they meet certain conditions.
There are changes this year for applicants.
The acronym, NOASH stands for No Alternative Source of Heat. A NoASH waiver is meant to protect people who burn wood, pellets or coal, from getting a notice of violation during a pollution alert. It exempts them from punishment for polluting, because they have met certain criteria.
Steven Hoke is an Environmental Program Specialist at the Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks. He says the new application process is being loaded up on the Division of Air Quality’s website this week.
“They should be posted online already, announcements will be made shortly. They’re going to put Facebook posts.”
Applicants have to demonstrate that they need to heat their homes with a solid fuel device like a wood, coal or pellet stove. A few actually have nothing else in the dwelling – no oil or gas back-up heater.
But most of the people who apply for the waiver do it to save money, because historically, it has been cheaper to burn wood than oil.
Earlier this year, oil prices crashed, and even went into negative numbers as suppliers scrambled for storage. For some, that means it might be cheaper to burn oil this winter than wood or coal. But Hoke says it is different for every applicant.
“There are plenty of people who burn because they like burning, and then there’s other people who don’t have the option, for one reason or another. And with the pandemic also affecting the amount people can work – even with the drop in oil prices – I can’t even venture to guess what that will do for the amount of waiver applications we get.”
Hoke says about 40 households had waivers last year, and all expired as of April 1, 2020. Because the state is going into the new Serious State Implementation Plan, or Serious SIP. So there are some changes this year.
“There’s now a requirement to check into the borough’s change-out program, and there’s a form to accompany showing that you’ve checked into it, and it needs to be filled out by the borough and turned in to the state with your application.”
An applicant does not have to participate in the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s woodstove changeout program. But they must show they got the information about getting a free EPA-compliant woodstove.
And this year an applicant has to show their stove is properly installed to manufacturer and federal guidelines, and that the chimney has been swept out.
“Documentation of the last chimney sweep is going to be required. A verification of proper installation is another new thing that’s going on; something that needs to be done by a professional who is certified, either through the National Fire Institute or the National Chimney Sweep Assocaiton.”
With the new requirements, the Division is releasing applications now, to process them before winter.
Hoke says the NOASH waiver information will have a link in the “Hot Topics” section of the state’s Air Quality website.