Fairbanks Not on Pace to Address Air Quality Problem By 2014

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks Borough Assembly heard public testimony on the latest version of an air quality control ordinance last night. The law aimed at bringing Fairbanks in compliance with federal fine particulate pollution standards, was amended in response to a measure approved by local voters last fall that stops the borough from regulating the use of heating devices.  Fairbanks resident David Troop suggested an emissions tax as a way to encourage people to burn clean.

Former Borough Air Pollution Control Commission member Michael Pollen, who recently completed his term, said the commission grudgingly approved the proposed amendments which strip limits on smoke output and fines for violating them, but cautioned that the problem still has to be dealt with.

Pollen said the borough is not on track to meet a 2014 deadline for a plan to address local P.M. 2.5 pollution.  The Borough’s only remaining tools are non-punitive measures local education and a wood stove and boiler repair, removal or replacement program. Another Fairbanks resident who testified last night, Tim Sovde of Fairbanks questioned the borough’s tactics.

Hundreds have already taken part in the change out program, receiving cash and tax breaks to fix or replace inefficient stoves and boilers, but the borough estimates it needs to swap out thousands of older heating appliances to fully address the problem. The amended air quality ordinance was advanced by the assembly for public hearing at the Jan. 27 assembly meeting.

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