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Bill proposes federal aid for replacement of polluting wood stoves

FAIRBANKS - Two U.S. senators have proposed legislation that would give federal aid to help Alaska residents and others across the country to replace inefficient wood stoves.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper introduced the bill last month that would create a grant program through the Environmental Protection Agency to help people purchase clean-burning heaters, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported this week.

Air pollution largely caused by fine particulate matter from a wood-burning heat source is an ongoing problem in the Fairbanks area.

"Many Alaskans, along with millions of families across the country, rely on wood as an abundant, affordable fuel to heat their homes," Murkowski said in a statement. "Older, inefficient appliances for wood heat can last a really long time, but newer options are better for both our health and the environment."

The measure aims to reduce emissions and improve air quality by providing "families with a cost-effective way to transition to appliances built with the most innovative wood-burning technologies," the senator said.

The measure would authorize $75 million for each fiscal year through 2024 for the grant program, incentivizing households to replace old wood heaters, according to a statement from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The measure would also require that no less than 4 percent of the funds be made available to tribes to use for maintenance and installation of the new stoves.

About 11.5 million homes use wood as a heat source, and 58 percent of those homes are in rural areas, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.