Stricter air quality controls targeting fireplaces are not the answer.
For many, a fireplace is their only source of heat -- or the only one they can afford. The City of Merced chops down trees and leaves the wood for others to pick up and you can find wood each year for better prices than the rapidly rising cost of propane. I have benefited from this on many occasions and though I do not have a wood-burning fireplace now, I wish I could install one in our home since my monthly propane bill is over $350 in the winter.
Unlike for electricity, there are no low-income programs for propane users. Fireplaces can burn cleanly with a catalytic converter and allow families to use less wood, have a more efficient burn and create fewer emissions. I think it is more prudent to focus on burning that does not need to happen -- such as rice fields or other agriculture areas -- that can be friendlier to both the air and the ground to improve our clean power sources.
EMILY LINDSEY Merced