This is a very important step towards protecting public health, particularly in areas where residential wood burning is widespread. Smoke gets in your eyes, as the old song goes. But wood smoke also gets in your lungs, where it can cause real damage.
Uncontrolled wood burning produces deadly particle soot. State and health groups have been pressing EPA for some time to set tougher national standards http://www.cleanairwatch.org/2013/10/states-sue-to-hasten-cleanup-of.html
The situation is so bad in Utah, for example, that wood burning has been temporarily banned altogether http://www.airquality.utah.gov/aqp/forecast.php
EPA's proposal would reduce emissions of fine particle pollution from new manufactured woodstoves, pellet stoves, hydronic heaters and forced air furnaces by an estimated 4,825 tons a year – an 80 percent reduction over estimated emissions without the rule. EPA projects that VOC emissions from future new heaters would be 76 percent lower as a result of the rule; and carbon monoxide emissions would be 72 percent lower compared to current requirements. VOCs are a key ingredient in smog.
EPA estimates the benefits of the proposed requirements for new residential wood heaters at $1.8 to $4.2 billion annually, with costs estimated at $15.7 million – or $118 to $267 in benefits for every dollar spent to comply. The projected benefits do not include the value of the carbon monoxide, VOCs, air toxics (including formaldehyde, benzene and polycyclic organic matter), and black carbon emissions that would be reduced along with PM emissions.
Information on the EPA plan is available here: http://www2.epa.gov/residential-wood-heaters