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New stove

| October 28, 2005 12:00 AM

You won't regret getting one of the new catalytic woodburning stoves.

I know firsthand.

When I was living in Crested Butte, Colo., about 15 or 16 years ago, John Crouch of the Hearth, Barbecue and Patio Association came to town and worked with the local community, the city, to help us get in compliance with EPA air quality standards.

The house I was renting belonged to the city's public works director and he had already installed one of the newer stoves. Because Crouch was working with Virginia Tech University, the stovepipe in my house was hooked up to both the telephone and a collection tank in which the smoke stack emissions were analyzed. Every night at 2 a.m. my stove called Virginia Tech and reported the data.

These stoves really work well. They emit less harmful particulate, which is great for people with allergies or respiratory ailments. And best of all, they produce as much if not more heat because they burn wood more efficiently.

We didn't have backup heat. We heated with wood, with one stove for a two-story house. The nighttime temperature in Crested Butte during the winter ranges from minus 10 to minus 40 degrees, regularly. It's at a high altitude, 8,800 feet, and surrounded by 12,000- and 13,000-foot mountains. The cold settles in the valley.

The Libby air quality program is moving along but they have 200 stoves available in the first phase. For people who qualify under the income requirements, there is no cost. Let me repeat that: If you qualify it's free. A new stove.

We had a similar program in Crested Butte but there were no free stoves. The city held a hammer over all of our heads. We had to replace the older stoves or within three years the local government would begin charging us a monthly polluters fee.

Locally, such strong measures aren't being discussed. But why wait and find out. Act now if you qualify for a stove. If you rent a place, check and see if you can still qualify. Your landlord might not be any better off than you are.

The Libby area — including the outlying county, must bring the air quality within EPA compliance or more stringent measures will have to be adopted. If we change over enough stoves that might do the trick.

This is a major economic development effort, too. Crested Butte willingly went into this contacting the state, the feds and Crouch to clean up their air because it was unsightly in the morning and early evening hours during winter. The Libby area is far worse — just drive out of town early in the morning and look back.

This is a good deal and people should be lining up for it. If you don't do it now you might have to later and the deal might not be as good. — Roger Morris